Pharmacy Services Expand Beyond COVID-19
As the global pandemic slows, one of the most significant leaders in delivering COVID-19 vaccinations in the U.S. is expanding its vaccination services.
Announced during the early stages of the pandemic, the Federal Retail Pharmacy Program (FRPP) includes 21 retail pharmacy partners with more than 41,000 locations nationwide.
As of February 9, 2023, more than 300 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines have been administered through the FRPP during the pandemic.
This success is related to easy access to most main streets in the U.S.
About 90% of the U.S. population lives within five miles of a community pharmacy, which generally serves patients' health needs seven days a week.
Previous studies have shown that pharmacies have more locations and greater operating hours than physician practices in low-income communities.
For some vaccines, Hispanic and Asian American populations often visit pharmacies to receive vaccinations.
In addition to COVID-19, adult vaccines have substantially expanded at pharmacies over the last few years, thanks to the Public Readiness and Emergency Preparedness (PREP) Act.
A report published by the Global Healthy Living Foundation and IQVIA in January 2023 found that pharmacists provided more recommended routine vaccinations than physicians in 2020 and 2021.
This report analyzed whether a person received measles, polio, and other vaccines at a pharmacy or a medical location between 2018 and 2022 (through the second quarter).
For example, the shingles vaccine saw a large majority of vaccinations taking place at pharmacies.
And pharmacy flu shot administration trends indicate a 30-40% increase between 2018/19 and 2020.
Additionally, specific states empowered pharmacies to deliver 'travel vaccines' such as yellow fever.
In 2023, proof of yellow fever immunization is required by over 30 countries before arrival.
For example, local pharmacies have successfully delivered yellow fever vaccines to their community in Austin, Texas.
These successes highlight a pivotal opportunity to ensure pharmacy-based vaccinations remain accessible and equitable moving forward in 2023.
Unfortunately, these services could be curtailed if the PREP Act's pharmacy expansion authorization expires this year.