According to a new 2021 survey from the National Community Pharmacists Association (NCPA), independent pharmacies are key players in vaccinating socially vulnerable populations, including minority populations. However, many of these pharmacies are receiving insufficient vaccine supply.
Based on the responses from 515 pharmacy owners and managers, 42.3% have described their surrounding neighborhoods as low-income communities. However, 53% of respondents reported that they serve a large majority of Caucasian communities. 38% of respondents described mostly Caucasian with significant minority populations, and 9% of a mostly non-Caucasian population.
“Reaching socially vulnerable patients with vaccines continues to be a key problem that community pharmacists can solve. The administration recently announced a dramatic expansion of the number of pharmacies that will get the vaccine. That’s great news, but we need to be sure the supply can meet that demand,” NCPA CEO B. Douglas Hoey, Pharmacist, MBA said.
Based on the 93% of respondents who are currently enrolled to administer one of the COVID-19 vaccines, 35.8% said that their vaccine supply is very inadequate, and 13% said that their supply is somewhat inadequate.
The biggest obstacle for independent pharmacies working through their vaccine program is that 46.7% of respondents said they were not getting any/enough vaccines. Another barrier that the survey found was that 22% of independent pharmacists identified was that patients were reluctant to receive the vaccine.
Based on the 93% of respondents that are enrolled to administer the COVID-19 vaccine, 46.7% of them will be issuing the vaccine to patients at a location other than their pharmacy. These places include professional office/worksite (68.7%), patient’s homes (57.1), community centers (53.0%), and schools (44.7%). The respondents also stated that they would administer the vaccine in places of worship as well.
“Americans trust their local pharmacist, and they can be very helpful [in] educating people about COVID-19 and the vaccines,” said Hoey. “Independent pharmacists live in the communities they serve. They are often prominent local business leaders and active in the civic life of the community. That’s especially true in communities of color, where community pharmacists often have strong ties, they and their staffs are part of the fabric of their neighborhood, and they can reach socially vulnerable populations in ways that larger pharmacies cannot.”
- Survey Findings Suggest Independent Pharmacists are Key to Vaccinating Vulnerable Populations. News Release. NCPA; April 13, 2021. Accessed April 14, 2021. https://ncpa.org/newsroom/news-releases/2021/04/13/survey-findings-suggest-independent-pharmacists-are-key.