As President-elect Joe Biden gets ready to take office, pharmacies across the country are getting ready to put his administration's vaccine plan into action.
Pharmacies have a goal of administering 100 million COVID-19 vaccines within 100 days of Biden's administration. This sounds like a big feat, but pharmacy and drug store groups say they've been ready for the task.
Many pharmacies have been preparing since the beginning of the pandemic for a COVID-19 vaccine rollout. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) had actually started working on a pandemic plan years ago.
“Starting back with H1N1, pharmacies actually helped federal government and states provide vaccinations. Today, one in three Americans actually get their flu shots at community pharmacies,” said Kathleen Jaeger with the National Association of Chain Drug Stores.
Part of the goal is to administer seven shots per hour in each pharmacy. Experts say that number is conservative and they're actually ready to exceed that.
Pharmacy groups say drug stores will have a dramatic impact on the rollout of the vaccine because of accessibility.
“90% of Americans actually live within five miles of a pharmacy, so when you think about this, it's a very easy, natural place to go. It's very convenient. It's very accessible. And best of all, it has trusted heath care professionals right within that store,” said Jaeger.
However, pharmacies do expect to see some challenges along the way. First, there's been a challenge with the number of doses becoming available and the number of people who need the vaccine. Second, plans are constantly changing.
“It’s a day-to-day situation as where the vaccine is going. They may have to turn on their ability to administer quickly if they get the call or get the email that they’re about to receive the vaccine. The challenge, I think, is just understanding and trying to get as much lee time as possible to know when your doses are arriving,” said Ronna Hauser, with the National Community Pharmacists Association.
Groups say that if states need additional help in administering the vaccine, pharmacies are ready to ramp up efforts. But they can't do more until they get the green light from states.