APhA coronavirus watch: CDC releases updated guidance for pharmacies

CDC released updates to its guidance for pharmacies on Friday as the COVID-19 pandemic continues and pharmacists are recognized as an essential part of the health care system.  

Important updates include the delivery of adult immunizations and other non-COVID clinical care; the use of face coverings by patients and pharmacists and pharmacy technicians; screening patients for fever and COVID-19 symptoms; guidance on PPE; and more.  

The guidance is an update to what CDC originally released in early April for pharmacists and pharmacy staff during the COVID-19 pandemic.  

Some highlights of the guidance include:  

  • Providing clinical services according to the Framework for Healthcare Systems Providing Non-COVID-19 Clinical Care During the COVID-19 Pandemic, which includes consideration for delivery of non-COVID-19 care by the degree of community transmission and potential for patient harm if care is deferred.  
  • Implementing universal use of face coverings—everyone entering a pharmacy should wear a face covering. Pharmacists and pharmacy technicians should always wear a facemask when they are in the pharmacy. Medical or surgical face masks over cloth face coverings are preferred for health professionals. 
  • Providing adult vaccinations based on local conditions—Adult vaccination should be considered if the service can be delivered during a visit with no additional risk to the patient or the health care provider. Consideration should be given to prioritizing older adults or adults with underlying conditions for vaccination due to their increased risk of disease and complications if vaccination is deferred. 
  • Hand hygiene should be performed before and after vaccine administration. If gloves are worn, they should be changed after administration, and hand hygiene should be performed between patients. 
  • Pharmacies should develop a strategy for screening patients for fever and symptoms of COVID-19 prior to providing vaccinations. 
  • Health care providers should follow standard precautions and adhere to additional PPE recommendations, including use of a face mask at all times while in the facility. Use of eye protection is recommended in areas with moderate to substantial community transmission. For areas with minimal to no community transmission, eye protection is considered optional, unless otherwise indicated as part of standard precautions.