Our world has changed dramatically, and we must do everything we can to ensure Pennsylvania communities have quick and ample access to vaccinations.
During the pandemic, the federal government estimates that pharmacies provided more than two of every three COVID-19 vaccine doses to Americans. A recent study by the Journal of American Pharmacists Association (JAPhA) found there were 15% more pharmacies than physician offices in low-income communities. Pharmacies also were open significantly more hours (https://www.japha.org/article/S1544-3191(22)00094-2/fulltext).
Unfortunately, this availability would stop once the federal government declares an official end to the public health emergency. Pennsylvania could join other states, including Virginia, Florida, Georgia and Illinois, in providing pharmacists the permanent ability to administer COVID-19 and other routine vaccinations. State legislation – House Bill 1535 and Senate Bill 511 – have been drafted to do just that.
Americans support Pennsylvania’s legislative effort. A recent survey by the National Association of Chain Drug Stores found that 68% support giving pharmacies the permanent ability to provide vaccinations. State lawmakers should act now on this common-sense legislation.
Patrick Lavella is president-elect of the Pennsylvania Pharmacists Association and manager of strategic pharmacy initiatives at Value Drug Company in Duncansville. He also owns Hilltop Pharmacy in Pittsburgh.