ASHP today issued the following statement on the release of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine's (NASEM) highly anticipated “Framework for Equitable Allocation of COVID-19 Vaccine” report, developed by the Committee on Equitable Allocation of Vaccine for the Novel Coronavirus. The report, sponsored by the National Institutes of Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), will inform the work of federal agencies that will determine how COVID-19 vaccine(s) will be allocated in the United States.
ASHP commends the work of the NASEM committee on this consensus report, which serves as a vital part of vaccine preparedness efforts to counter the COVID-19 pandemic. Importantly, the committee recognized the essential role that pharmacists serve during the pandemic and its report now prioritizes pharmacists along with other high-risk, frontline healthcare providers recommended to be immunized against severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) in the first phase of vaccine allocation. The report also emphasizes pharmacist as immunizers, at risk for community transmission.
NASEM’s initial discussion draft of the COVID-19 vaccine framework identified pharmacists in the second phase to be vaccinated. ASHP, through public comments and participation in a Sept. 2 NASEM listening session, advocated to create a targeted framework that prioritizes the most vulnerable populations and critical occupation groups, including pharmacists and all high-risk, frontline healthcare workers. In addition, ASHP urged committee members to ensure pharmacists are prioritized to receive allocation of COVID-19 vaccine and ancillary supplies needed to administer the vaccine(s).
“ASHP is working to ensure that pharmacists are immunized and empowered to be immunizers. Without question, pharmacists and pharmacy technicians need to be prioritized for vaccination alongside other frontline healthcare workers,” said ASHP Chief Executive Officer Paul W. Abramowitz, Pharm.D., Sc.D. (Hon.), FASHP. “We applaud the National Academies for reconsidering its initial stance on this point, which is critically important for our members who have been working tirelessly on the front lines and who stand ready to administer the vaccine, when approved and distributed.”
In its final report, NASEM also notes the disproportionate impact of COVID-19 on minorities and discusses the underlying causes that have led to higher rates of infection.
“We are pleased that the recommendations in the report explicitly address the burden of COVID-19 on communities of color and agree with recommendations that address mitigating health inequities is ‘a moral imperative of an equitable vaccine allocation,’” Abramowitz said.
This firm commitment by NASEM committee members is consistent with calls from ASHP to keep vulnerable populations at the forefront of decisions related to reducing the transmission and severity of the SARS-CoV-2 virus.
The final report, which also addresses issues such as vaccination program administration, evaluation, and assessment; vaccine hesitancy, demand, and promotion; risk communication and strategies for community engagement; and global considerations, is expected to also be used as a resource by state health officials and policymakers.
NASEM’s report outlines a number of recommendations, including:
• The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) should adopt the committee’s framework for equitable allocation of COVID-19 vaccine.
• HHS should leverage and expand the use of existing systems, structures, and partnerships across all levels of government and provide the necessary resources to ensure equitable allocation, distribution, and administration of COVID-19 vaccine.
• The COVID-19 vaccine should be provided and administered with no out-of-pocket costs for those being vaccinated.
• HHS should create and appropriately fund a COVID-19 vaccine risk communication and community engagement program.
• The CDC should develop and launch a COVID-19 vaccine promotion campaign.
ASHP will continue to advocate on behalf of our members and support COVID-19 vaccine planning efforts; a number of resources, including ASHP’s Principles for COVID-19 Vaccine Distribution, Allocation, and Mass Immunization, are available on our COVID-19 vaccine page.
ASHP represents pharmacists who serve as patient care providers in acute and ambulatory settings. The organization’s nearly 55,000 members include pharmacists, student pharmacists, and pharmacy technicians. For 78 years, ASHP has been at the forefront of efforts to improve medication use and enhance patient safety. For more information about the wide array of ASHP activities and the many ways in which pharmacists advance healthcare, visit ASHP’s website, ashp.org, or its consumer website, SafeMedication.com.
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