Researchers highlight ‘vital role’ of community pharmacists in public health
Community pharmacies in the United States “played a vital role in the public health response to the COVID-19 pandemic,” said a new commentary published June 29, 2023, in JAMA Forum.
Citing data published earlier this year in JAPhA, authors of the new commentary wrote that from early 2021 to May 2023, community pharmacies provided more than 300 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines, representing more than two of every five doses administered in the United States.
“With this work, pharmacists delivered on a promise long recognized in the public health community, but seldom achieved in practice,” wrote commentary authors Joshua Sharfstein, MD, from the Bloomberg School of Public Health at Johns Hopkins University and Cherokee Layson-Wolf, PharmD, from the University of Maryland School of Pharmacy.
Their commentary lays out four clinical domains where pharmacists are especially accessible and knowledgeable: HIV, hypertension, opioid overdose, and reproductive health care.
“The role of community pharmacists and pharmacies in the postpandemic world is uncertain. The special authority to provide COVID-19 testing and vaccination is scheduled to end in December 2024,” Layson-Wolf and Sharfstein wrote. “As the clock ticks down, it is time to build for the future. There are more than 67,000 pharmacies in the US, with 88.9% of individuals living within 5 miles of at least 1 pharmacy. It is worth appreciating what this network could accomplish for the health, equity, and well-being of US individuals, as reflected in 4 clinical domains.”