McKinley, Spanberger Call on HHS to Increase Focus on Community Pharmacies in COVID-19 Vaccine Distribution

WASHINGTON, D.C. — U.S. Representatives David B. McKinley, P.E. (R-W.Va) and Abigail Spanberger (D-VA) today sent a letter to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) calling on the administration to implement lessons learned from West Virginia who opted for a community pharmacist-led approach in its national COVID-19 vaccine distribution strategy.

In their letter to HHS Acting Secretary Norris Cochran, McKinley and Spanberger pointed to West Virginia where community pharmacists have taken a larger leadership role and have seen a much faster distribution of COVID-19 vaccines to vulnerable populations, including nursing home residents. Additionally, the Members urged HHS to learn from these approaches and incorporate them into the federal COVID-19 vaccination strategy, including in efforts to combat hesitancy about receiving the vaccine in underserved and historically marginalized communities.

“Community pharmacists have the flexibility to cut through red tape and reduce paperwork burdens for patients and their guardians in many cases. For example, in West Virginia, the community pharmacists demonstrated great ingenuity in establishing a vaccine drive that finished administering the first round of the vaccine to nursing home residents by the end of the December,” said McKinley and Spanberger. “By comparison, at the end of December most other states had only just begun administering the first dose of the vaccine to nursing home residents.”

Their letter continued, “The stakes could not be higher because nursing home residents are the most vulnerable to severe disease and death from coronavirus infection. More than 100,000 nursing home residents and staff have died from COVID-19 since April. As community spread has worsened and cases surged in the past few months, new deaths in long-term care facilities have trended upwards as well. We urge you to adapt lessons learned from states that have put in place successful, community-led strategies to protect the most vulnerable.”

To read the letter, click here.

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