Pharmacists Might Be Near Front of Line for COVID-19 Vaccines, When Available
Pharmacists are among healthcare professionals prioritized to be quickly vaccinated against COVID-19 as soon as a product is approved by the Food and Drug Administrations. That is especially the case if they are administering the vaccines. Find out what else new guidance from the CDC recommends about the plan to distribute a COVID-19 vaccine when one is available.
ATLANTA – Pharmacy staff could be among the first group receiving a COVID-19 vaccine is available and approved by the Food and Drug Administration.
“Immunization with a safe and effective COVID-19 vaccine is a critical component of the United States strategy to reduce COVID-19-related illnesses, hospitalizations, and deaths and to help restore societal functioning,” according to a new document from the Department of Health and Human Services. ‘The goal of the U.S. government is to have enough COVID-19 vaccine for all people in the United States who wish to be vaccinated. Early in the COVID-19 Vaccination Program, there may be a limited supply of COVID-19 vaccine, and vaccination efforts may focus on those critical to the response, providing direct care, and maintaining societal function, as well as those at highest risk for developing severe illness from COVID-19.”
The guidance from the national Centers for Disease Control and Prevention suggests that critical populations first in line to be immunized would be the critical infrastructure workforce of healthcare personnel and could include vaccinators, pharmacy staff, ancillary staff, school nurses, and emergency medical services personnel.
“The critical infrastructure workforce varies by jurisdiction. Each jurisdiction must decide which groups to focus on when vaccine supply is limited by determining key sectors that may be within their populations (e.g., port-related workers in coastal jurisdictions),” write the authors of the COVID-19 Vaccination Program Interim Playbook for Jurisdiction Operations.
The CDC recommends that include:
- People at increased risk for severe COVID-19 illness, such as residents of long term care facilities, including nursing home, assisted living and independent living facility residents;
- Those with underlying medical conditions that are risk factors for severe COVID-19 illness, including people 65 years of age and older, including those at increased risk of acquiring or transmitting COVID-19
- Members of certain racial and ethnic minority groups who have higher rates of COVID-19;
- Tribal communities;
- Those who are incarcerated/detained in correctional facilities, and
- The homeless and those living in shelters
Also prioritized might be students attending colleges/universities, as well as the staff of educational settings, including early learning centers, schools, and colleges/universities, as well as people living and working in other congregate settings, who have limited access to routine vaccination services, such as those residing in rural communities, having disabilities or are under- or uninsured.
“Estimates of these groups should be as accurate as possible to minimize potential waste of vaccine, constituent products, or ancillary supplies. Partner agencies and organizations may be helpful in determining accurate estimates of these population groups, according to the guidance.
Immunization with a safe and effective COVID-19 vaccine is a critical component of the United States strategy to reduce COVID-19-related illnesses, hospitalizations, and deaths and to help restore societal functioning. The goal of the U.S. government is to have enough COVID-19 vaccine for all people in the United States who wish to be vaccinated. Early in the COVID-19 Vaccination Program, there may be a limited supply of COVID-19 vaccine, and vaccination efforts may focus on those critical to the response, providing direct care, and maintaining societal function, as well as those at highest risk for developing severe illness from COVID-19.
The document assumes the following phased availability of vaccine:
- Phase 1: Potentially limited supply of COVID-19 vaccine doses available. Jurisdictions are advised to focus initial efforts on reaching the critical populations. Specifically, they must ensure vaccination locations selected can reach populations, manage cold chain requirements, and meet reporting requirements for vaccine supply and uptake, according to the CDC.
- .Phase 2: Large number of vaccine doses available. Jurisdiction are urged to focus on ensuring access to vaccine for members of Phase 1 critical populations who were not yet vaccinated as well as for the general population. That would include expanding the provider network.
- Phase 3: Sufficient supply of vaccine doses for entire population with a surplus of doses. Jurisdictions then will focus on ensuring equitable vaccination access across the entire population by monitoring vaccine uptake and coverage and reassessing strategy to increase uptake in populations or communities with low coverage.
No specific availability dates or types of vaccines are specified.
BELOW IS EMBARGOED UNTIL SEPTEMBER 29, 10 AM CT.