ALEXANDRIA, VA – National Community Pharmacists Association (NCPA) CEO B. Douglas Hoey (pictured), pharmacist, MBA has been invited by the Department of Health and Human Services to serve alongside administration officials and industry executives as part of Operation Warp Speed, a program to develop, approve, produce, and distribute an eventual COVID-19 vaccine.
“Developing a vaccine in record time is the first hurdle,” Hoey said via NCPA press release. “Then we need a way to distribute hundreds of millions of doses in record time. Community pharmacies are crucial to the administration of the millions of doses that will be needed to overcome the debilitating effect of the virus, and I’m glad to have the opportunity to represent community pharmacy as part of the effort.”
President Donald J. Trump announced Operation Warp Speed in June of this year. The project is a government-wide effort including HHS, the CDC, the FDA, the NIH, and the Department of Defense. They are working with pharmaceutical companies to produce 300 million doses of vaccine in just a few months, a blink of an eye compared to the years-long process it normally takes to bring new drugs market.
NCPA represents more than 21,000 community pharmacies, which are independently owned and operated pharmacies that are the only accessible health care providers for millions of Americans.
“COVID-19 is a public health emergency and an economic emergency,” Hoey said. “A vaccine is imperative to stop the spread, save lives, and get the economy back on its feet. Community pharmacies are located where the people are, including rural and medically underserved areas. Three quarters of them already provide immunizations, and the overwhelming majority plan to administer COVID-19 vaccines when they come to market.”
Hoey cited a new survey released last week by NCPA showing that community pharmacists are perfectly positioned to be part of the national vaccine project. Their mobility is one key advantage. In fact, 70 percent serve patients in locations outside of their brick-and-mortar pharmacies. They immunize patients in long-term care facilities, local businesses, community centers, schools, prisons, places of worship, and other locations.
“Community pharmacists are willing to go wherever they can to help the most people,” he said. “Most serve communities with fewer than 50,000 residents, and nearly 40 percent serve communities with fewer than 10,000 residents. The only way to efficiently and effectively reach some of these communities is through the community pharmacy.”