A report from the Global Healthy Living Foundation (GHLF) and the IQVIA Institute revealed an increase in people receiving vaccines at pharmacies in the US. Across a range of vaccines for adults, regardless of “location, gender, or income”, a “large majority” sought vaccines at pharmacy level.  

The report was commissioned to assess immunisation access improvements after the Public Readiness and Emergency Preparedness Act (PREP Act) and adjustments made during the pandemic. In 2022 PharmacyTimes reported that this “expanded access to services provided by licensed pharmacists, qualified pharmacy technicians, and pharmacy interns”.  

Pharmacies for all 

GHLF emphasises that pharmacies are well-placed to serve low-income communities, due to physical location and more convenient opening hours. The CDC suggests that about 91% of the US population lives 5 miles from a community pharmacy. This study indicates that pharmacies have been crucial aspects of the national vaccine campaign for all. Dr Robert Popovian of the GHLF stated that “immunisation rates improve when pharmacists and pharmacy technicians are authorised to vaccinate adults”.  

“It’s time to permanently codify the PREP Act into federal and state law while further expanding authorisation to empower pharmacists, pharmacy interns, and pharmacy technicians to administer all FDA approved and/or ACIP recommended vaccines”.  

Seth Ginsberg, president and co-founder of GHLF, agreed that “broadening” authority will increase immunisation rates.  

This will “reduce overall health care costs, and save lives, laying the groundwork for a better, stronger, and fairer healthcare system for all”.  

Results in the report 

The report identified an increase in adult vaccines administration at pharmacies in 2020 and 2021. Most of the adult COVID-19 and shingles vaccines were administered at pharmacies. Furthermore, during “flu season”, between 60% and 70% of flu vaccinations took place at pharmacies. This statistic additionally indicates a 30%-40% increase in vaccine claims from 2018/19. Other adult vaccinations also “trended upwards”.  

Although pharmacy-based vaccination increased regardless of “location, income, or gender”, Hispanic and Asian populations were perceived to “receive a larger share of vaccines at pharmacies” compared to other groups.  

Dr Popovian hopes that the “unprecedented cooperation and effort to improve immunisation rates” brought about by COVID-19 will continue. To hear more about efforts to improve access to vaccines across the world, come to the World Vaccine Congress in Washington in April.