ASHP Chief Executive Officer Paul W. Abramowitz, ASHP Chief Operating Officer Kasey Thompson, members of ASHP’s Government Relations Office, and ASHP member Vivian Bradley Johnson, senior vice president of clinical services, Parkland Health and Hospital System, met with White House officials on May 7 to discuss pharmacists’ role in COVID-19 vaccination and vaccine confidence efforts, mitigating health disparities, and getting ahead of future health threats.
ASHP emphasized the critical role of our members in the COVID-19 response and public health, as well as opportunities to use pharmacists as healthcare providers to address health disparities and to mitigate future public health threats. Specifically, the meeting addressed:
The Role of Health-System Pharmacists in COVID-19 Vaccination and Vaccine Confidence: ASHP noted that our members are on the frontlines of COVID-19 treatment and vaccination efforts, providing direct patient care and taking the lead on standing up and managing vaccination sites, including mass vaccination sites run in collaboration with the Federal Emergency Management Agency and state/local health departments. Additionally, ASHP underscored the role of pharmacists in vaccine education, providing detail regarding our partnerships with the Get The Medications Right Institute and the Ad Council, and discussing opportunities to collaborate with the White House to promote vaccine confidence.
Mitigating COVID-19 Health Disparities: Dr. Bradley Johnson provided White House officials with an on-the-ground view of the work Parkland Health and Hospital System has undertaken to expand access to care in the community, including effective utilization of pharmacist patient care services. ASHP emphasized the need to replicate this type of pharmacist engagement across the country, leveraging pharmacists’ expertise and training to address disparities in access to care, including COVID-19 testing and vaccination, HIV prophylaxis, diabetes and chronic disease monitoring, and medication-assisted treatment for opioid use disorder.
Getting Ahead of Future Health Threats: ASHP stressed that preparation is vital to avoid a potential double pandemic of flu and COVID-19 this winter. To accomplish this, ASHP urged maximizing access to testing and vaccination for both COVID-19 and flu, removing barriers that prevent pharmacists from initiating antiviral therapy for flu and COVID-19 (once available for outpatients), and ensuring telehealth flexibilities remain in place. ASHP also noted that to meet the administration’s access goals, a payment mechanism must be in place to make these services financially sustainable.
ASHP is extremely appreciative of the opportunity to showcase the work of our members. We look forward to continuing to work closely with the White House to advance pharmacists’ role in combating COVID-19 and improving public health.