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  • Writer's pictureLindsay Wall, PharmD, RPh

Independent Pharmacies and the COVID-19 Vaccine

Updated: Mar 18, 2021

In March 2020, COVID-19 was declared a pandemic by the World Health Organization. Just a few months later vaccine development began and in January 2021 vaccinations began in the United States for medical professionals, first responders, and senior citizens. Over the next few months, the COVID-19 vaccine will be available for the general public.

Now is the perfect time to get your pharmacy ready for the COVID-19 vaccine roll-out. While each state has its own vaccination plans, there are several CDC federal guidelines that you will be required to meet.

Get up-to-date: Make sure your pharmacy business is up-to-date with your certifications and licenses. You must have an active NPI/TPI number to qualify for the CDC COVID-19 Vaccination Program Provider program. You will also need to check with your state requirements for COVID-19 vaccine immunizers. While each state may have different qualifications, most pharmacies will be required to provide a NPI number, pharmacy license number, and ID number for your state vaccination registry.

Be Vaccine Ready: The CDC requires pharmacists and staff to follow the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) guidelines. COVID-19 immunizers will be required to follow the ACIP requirements and recommendations.

Check Your Cold Storage Capacities: Storing the COVID-19 vaccine requires very cold temperatures. Immunizer pharmacies will need to be able to maintain the integrity of the vaccine cold-chain requirements. Currently, the Pfizer vaccine must be stored at -94 degrees and has a refrigerated shelf life of 24-48 hours. While the Moderna vaccine must be stored at -4 degrees but has a refrigerator life of 7 days.

Tracking and Reporting Practices: As a COVID-19 vaccine administrator, you will be required to report each vaccination within 24 hours to your state or local immunization registry. You will also be required to report any doses that were lost, wasted, and any adverse reactions that a patient has related to the vaccine.

Locally owned, independent pharmacies will play a critical role in getting their communities vaccinated against COVID-19. By making preparations now, you will be ready when the vaccines are available.

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