Influential group recommends that pharmacists receive priority access to COVID-19 vaccine

A special committee of the National Academies of Science, Engineering, and Medicine (NASEM) tasked with developing a framework on the allocation and distribution of the COVID-19 vaccine agreed that pharmacists should be in the first group to be vaccinated.

In a draft framework, pharmacists were placed on tier 2, behind physicians, nurses, and other providers. APhA and other pharmacy organizations urged the elevation of pharmacists to the top tier of “phase 1,” citing pharmacists’ exposure to COVID-19 as frontline health care workers who have served continuously throughout the pandemic across practice settings. The letter urged the inclusion of pharmacists in all practice settings.

The NASEM committee’s final framework recommendations bumped pharmacists up to the first tier (page 95), categorizing them as having uncontrolled exposure to patients and the public in the course of their work and a role in distributing and administering COVID-19 vaccines.

The framework’s final recommendations also include pharmacists and pharmacies as having a prominent role in COVID-19 public health efforts.

The recommendations of the NASEM committee are nonbinding but are expected to be influential in the eventual design of COVID-19 vaccine distribution and allocation plans.