In a letter to President Joe Biden, ASHP and more than 50 signers called for use of federal resources and expansion of the vaccinator workforce to confront the slow ramping up of COVID-19 vaccinations.
In a letter sent on Tuesday, the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists (ASHP) urged President Joe Biden to use federal resources from the Department of Defense (DoD), the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), the Public Health Service Commissioned Corps, and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to activate mass vaccination sites for coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19).1
The letter is signed by more than 50 health systems and provider organizations, representing 58,000 pharmacists and pharmacy technicians, in addition to millions of students in pharmacy programs.
According to ASHP, using federal resources is essential to meet Biden’s goal of vaccinating 100 million Americans in his first 100 days in office.
“The slow ramp up in vaccinations has demonstrated that using federal organizations to operate mass vaccination sites, in addition to vaccination efforts at hospitals and community pharmacies, will be necessary to ensure that anyone who wants the vaccine can get it, as doses become available,” ASHP CEO Paul W. Abramowitz, PharmD, ScD. (Hon), FASHP, wrote in the letter.
The ramping up of COVID-19 vaccination also requires that Biden expand the vaccinating workforce to include pharmacy, nursing, and medical students, as well as retired health care workers willing and able to be deployed in the effort, the letter said.
“Leveraging a highly qualified and empowered pharmacy workforce in all care settings is a vital step to expanding patient access to the COVID-19 vaccine,” said Abramowitz. “Pharmacists, pharmacy technicians, and student pharmacists serve as knowledgeable and accessible immunization providers in their communities, successfully collaborating with public health officials and other providers to ensure that there is broad protection from worsening and future outbreaks of the disease.”
Pharmacies are serving as health care hubs amid the COVID-19 vaccination effort. According to a recent ASHP survey on COVID-19 vaccine rollout, nearly 40% of pharmacist respondents reported that vaccine administration is one of their primary roles at this time. Moreover, facilities often reported pharmacy involvement in making decisions about vaccine priority, being responsible for data entry, and serving as centers between vaccine delivery to other locations in the state or health system.
ASHP and its 50-plus supporters are confident that the president’s goal of 100 million vaccines in arms by day 100 will be reached if Biden uses federal resources and expands the vaccination workforce.2
“We can meet your goal of vaccinating 100 million people in 100 days if the efforts of our nation’s hospitals and pharmacies are supplemented by the unmatched resources of the federal government, including using the DoD, VA, USPHS, and FEMA to operate mass vaccination sites across the country,” ASHP wrote in the letter.