NCPA: Independent Pharmacies Can Improve Vaccine Uptake in Vulnerable Communities

April 14, 2021
Gabrielle Ientile

A new survey conducted by NCPA showed that many independents are serving vulnerable populations but are not receiving adequate supplies of COVID-19 vaccine.

According to a new survey from the National Community Pharmacists Association (NCPA), independent community pharmacists are key to vaccinating socially vulnerable populations, including minority populations, but many are receiving inadequate vaccine supply.

Based on the responses from 515 pharmacy owners and managers between April 1 and April 7, 42.3% described their surrounding neighborhoods as low-income. Additionally, 53% reported serving a large majority white community, 38% a mostly white with significant minority population, and 9% a mostly non-white 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,” said NCPA CEO B. Douglas Hoey, pharmacist, MBA, in a news release.

Related: Independent Pharmacy’s Best-Kept Secret in COVID-19 Vaccination

Of the 93% of respondents who are currently administering one of the COVID-19 vaccines, 13% and 36% described their vaccine supply as somewhat inadequate and very inadequate, respectively. The biggest obstacle for pharmacies working through their vaccine programs was not receiving any/enough vaccine (46.7%), followed by patient reluctance to get the shot (22.2%).

The NCPA survey also showed that 46.7% of respondents are either already administering, or planning to administer, COVID-19 vaccines at locations other than their pharmacy, including professional offices or work sites (68.7%), patients’ homes (57.1%) and community centers (53.0%). Pharmacists also reported giving shots in schools and places of worship.

“Americans trust their local pharmacist, and they can be very helpful 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,” Hoey said.

View the Report for 2021 NCPA Vaccine Survey.

Reference

  1. 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.