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Partnering with Pharmacies to Provide Vaccine

December 29, 2009
Flu shot being administeredThe pendulum has swung to the other side. Local health departments, which once faced massive demands for H1N1 vaccine and low vaccine supply, have now increased vaccine supply as demand is waning. Some have started to partner with private providers, including your local pharmacy in order to expand the availability of the vaccine to those who request it.

In San Francisco, pharmacies and grocery stores will distribute the city’s remaining surplus of H1N1 vaccine following a mass clinic. 

Some local health departments shared their experiences in partnering with pharmacies with NACCHO through our online, searchable Stories from the Field database.

For example, the Lapeer County Health Department in Michigan opened up vaccine supply to pharmacies starting the week before Thanksgiving, when shipments from the distributor began to increase. Health officials also reasoned that the vaccinations could be provided over the holiday when other providers would be closed. The partnership has expanded to include nationwide retailers.

The Seattle and King County Public Health Department in Washington State provided vaccine to a number of pharmacies in order to best reach at-risk populations. The department sees pharmacies as important working partners in distributing not only vaccine, but also medicine, information, and other services.

For the most part, stories submitted to NACCHO revealed successful partnering initiatives that help to expand the reach of the H1N1 vaccine.

There were some limitations to expanding the range of distributors. During the early stages of the campaign when vaccine supply was low, pharmacies with access to vaccine had to take a patient’s word on their status as a member of a high-risk group. And some health departments had difficulty gathering data on administered doses in order to understand if demands and needs were being met.

The St. John’s County Health Department in Florida solved that issue by supplying providers with the health department’s own locally approved consent forms. Each week, the partner providers returned completed forms in order to help health officials track the number of high-risk or target group individuals who received the H1N1 vaccine.

While these initiatives have been successful, recently—as the rates of H1N1 infection have dropped—vaccine demand has also plummeted. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention continues to encourage Americans to get vaccinated for H1N1 in order to protect themselves, their families and their communities.

To read more stories from the field, or submit your own, please visit the database. You can also share your stories and useful lessons by commenting here.


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