HHS Invites NACDS to Join Federal Vaccine Consultation Panel

July 21, 2020

The Federal Vaccine Consultation Panel will allow industry leaders to share the questions, concerns, and needs of their constituencies related to the development and distribution planning of a COVID-19 vaccine.

In a move that underscores the important role of pharmacists in effective pandemic response, the office of Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Alex Azar has invited NACDS President and CEO Steven C. Anderson to serve on HHS’ new COVID-19 Vaccine Consultation Panel (VCP).

According to HHS, the panel, which consists of external leaders, would assist the Department and be a conduit for 2-way communication in regards to the development and launch of a coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) vaccine.

In their invitation to Anderson, HHS said “participants would receive periodic updates from key leaders in the Department on our progress in the development and distribution planning of a vaccine. Conversely, each VCP member would share the questions, concerns, and needs of their constituencies with the Department leaders. The goal of the of the VCP is not to reach ‘consensus,’ but to better understand how we can reach and educate our citizens with a successful vaccine campaign…Your experience and insight would be highly valuable to the Secretary and Operation Warp Speed…”

Although an exact timeline for an anticipated COVID-19 vaccine is unknown, demand will be high once it becomes available, and pharmacists are in an ideal position to administer the vaccine.

In a previous interview with Drug Topics®, Kathleen Jaeger, RPh, senior vice president of pharmacy care and patient advocacy for NACDS, pointed to the association’s recent poll conducted by Morning Consult, which found that 86% of Americans say pharmacists should be allowed to provide a COVID-19 vaccine.

Related: Pharmacies Must Prepare for a COVID-19 Vaccine

“This, combined with the tremendous trust that patients place in pharmacists, suggests that American will continue to look to these highly educated health professionals for reliable information,” Jaeger previously told Drug Topics®.

NACDS has continuously advocated for the federal and state governments to take action to ensure the population can rely on pharmacies and pharmacists for the eventual COVID-19 vaccine. The organization has also engaged with Operation Warp Speed to make the case for pharmacy’s role, based on the industry’s proven track record during the H1N1 pandemic.

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“I am looking forward to the opportunity to participate on HHS’ forthcoming Vaccine Consultation Panel on behalf of NACDS,” Anderson said in a statement. “Maximizing pharmacy’s preparedness and impact throughout the pandemic is critical to the national response–there is a pharmacy within 5 miles of 90% of all Americans, and the accessibility of these health destinations will prove essential for the fast and efficient rollout of a COVID-19 vaccine, as well as for the rapidly approaching need to vaccinate for the flu and to help Americans return to their normal vaccination schedules. In a pandemic situation–according to the [CDC]–80% of the nation can be vaccinated 7 weeks sooner when pharmacists are included in the vaccination plan.”

Reference

1. NACDS Invited to Join Health and Human Services’ Federal Vaccine Consultation Panel. News Release. NACDS; July 20, 2020. Accessed July 21, 2020. https://www.nacds.org/news/nacds-invited-to-join-health-and-human-services-federal-vaccine-consultation-panel/