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The United States has overlooked this powerful tool for loosening the logjam of the COVID-19 vaccine.

One key to unleashing the log jam of the COVID-19 vaccine is clearly visible, but what has been overlooked so far is the local retail pharmacy.

As of Monday 9 million people received Pfizer at least once

Or moderna

Vaccine since it was approved in December. This is just a small portion of the 25 million or more doses provided to state and federal agencies at the same time.

Several factors are involved. Pfizer vaccines need to be stored at minus 70 degrees Celsius, which complicates the inoculation process, which is not close to a special freezer. Moderna vaccines also need to be stored in the freezer, but are easy to control at minus 20 degrees Celsius.

In addition, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that healthcare professionals first prioritize shots that create tier welterweights and categories within tiers so that they can be managed by public health agencies.

Another protocol-Reduce dose to ensure that a second shot is available to complete vaccination-With the inauguration of the Biden administration, it could be eased.

But perhaps most importantly, we need to make better plans to involve independent pharmacies so that high doses can increase more quickly.

Federal government Agreement At CVS in November

And walgreens
+ 2.04%

A chain that provides vaccinations to long-term care facilities (and some pharmacies in the Managed Health Care Associates organization). However, CVS and Walgreens operate only 18,400 of the 62,100 retail pharmacies operating in the United States.

Recognizing the need for a wider range, Secretary of Health and Welfare Alex Azar Said on January 7th The federal partnership with 19 chains and associations will eventually include 40,000 pharmacies.

In most cases, independent pharmacists, the only healthcare providers most accessible to Americans, are excluded. Thanks to the independence that covers the country, 90% of the population lives within 5 miles of the pharmacy.

West Virginia vs California

Their efficiency and accessibility are already on display in the COVID-19 rollout. West Virginia, with few chain stores Choose to use 250 independent pharmacies As the backbone of that vaccination drive. as a result, West Virginia is the best state so far Distribute the first shot to states that have received at least 100,000 doses. 5.4% of the population was vaccinated using 60% of the assigned vaccine.

By comparison, California, the most populous state in the United States, uses only 28% of its quota and inoculates only 2% of its population. Los Angeles County, now the epicenter of the pandemic nationwide and eager to accelerate the distribution of vaccines, is looking to pharmacies. We plan to open 19 to 75 additional vaccination sites. 70 of them will be retail pharmacies.

In the fight against COVID-19, pharmacies have many advantages over just ubiquity and trained vaccinated people.They are The most trusted professional in the countryTherefore, according to the Gallup poll, they are in a good position to help their community overcome vaccine hesitation.

They are also the most contacted medical professionals for people with chronic illnesses and can therefore act swiftly to vaccinate their clients when they come in for other medications. In many independent pharmacies, they are familiar with their clients and are willing to encourage them to be vaccinated.

Independent pharmacies from chain pharmacies provide vaccines such as drive-through or parking-based injections, reserved vaccinations to limit foot traffic, and space to wait for patients to check for adverse reactions. The workflow process is very similar. With the availability of deep freezer, some pharmacies may not be able to provide Pfizer vaccine, but otherwise all other vaccines can be safely stored. In addition, independent pharmacies tend to be less crowded than chain pharmacies, which can be an advantage.

Alternative strategies for expanding vaccination, the use of large sites where thousands of people can come to shoot, are not without risk. The first shot takes 10 days to collect the immune response, so such sites can turn into disease spreaders rather than preventatives.

Pharmacy marshalling is not the perfect solution. Many areas of low-income urban areas are pharmacy deserts, and residents must travel to fill out prescriptions. Authorities will need to create a mobile clinic and mount outreach drives to fill that gap.

However, pharmacies allow the public health sector to leverage existing infrastructure to maximize efficiency and potential, freeing resources for hard-to-reach people. In this early stage of the vaccination effort, the role of Corner Pharmacy, a valuable and reliable American institution, cannot be ignored when participating in the race to build herd immunity and save lives. No.

Read now: It will be difficult to get the COVID-19 vaccine in the American countryside — what you need to do to overcome it is:

Vassilios Papadopoulos is the Dean of the University of Southern California Pharmacy in Los Angeles.

The United States has overlooked this powerful tool for loosening the logjam of the COVID-19 vaccine. The United States has overlooked this powerful tool for loosening the logjam of the COVID-19 vaccine.

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