May 20, 2019 - Pharmacies are a vital part of communities and healthcare ecosystems and can serve as important participants in a public health emergency response. The role of the pharmacists has expanded to include the provision of prevention activities such as immunizations, laboratory testing, chronic disease screening and medication management, and providing primary care services, where allowable by state laws and regulations. In fact, almost a third of adults who received influenza immunizations in 2018, were vaccinated at community pharmacies. Public health can leverage these capabilities and the convenience and accessibility of pharmacies to serve the community during an influenza pandemic or other emergency.
Pharmacies serve communities in multiple ways during an emergency response by:
Pharmacies can extend the reach of public health and make considerable contributions during a public health emergency response, especially when they are engaged in planning and preparedness in advance of an emergency. Mutually beneficial partnerships between public health and pharmacies are being developed, yet barriers still exist. Currently, community pharmacies are under-recognized and under-utilized as providers of adult immunizations and other preventive services, and may not receive adequate reimbursement for the services provided. Improvement of state laws and regulations to expand services that pharmacists can offer every day while also addressing current coverage and reimbursement limitations for patient care services can augment the value pharmacies can provide in their communities, and boost the ability of pharmacies to provide critical services during a pandemic or other emergency response.
Recommendations (for more information)
Including pharmacies in state and local pandemic planning and response can increase the effectiveness of a public health emergency response; outreach and planning efforts are needed now. Further, providing pharmacists with broader authority to conduct patient care services every day can have added benefit in times of disaster too.
 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Early-Season Flu Vaccination Coverage–United States, November 2018 https://www.cdc.gov/flu/fluvaxview/nifs-estimates-nov2018.htm.
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 Moose J and Branham A. Pharmacists as Influencers of Patient Adherence. Pharmacy Times. August 21, 2014.
 Sunshine G, Thompson K, Menon AN, Anderson N, Penn M, Koonin LM. An Assessment of State Laws Providing Gubernatorial Authority to Remove Legal Barriers to Emergency Response. Health Security. 2019 Apr 3. [Epub ahead of print]
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