H1N1 Vaccine Supply May be Easing for Independent Pharmacies

By Lisa Fowler, Pharm.D.

While some large, national pharmacy chains are aggressively offering H1N1 vaccinations, as reported by The Wall Street Journal recently, some independent pharmacies have had a tougher time doing so.

For example, large national chains have access to vaccine supplies, managed by the federal government, that go unordered by state or territorial health departments. The minimum requirement for such orders is 100,000 doses – a volume that’s impractical for most independent pharmacies. NCPA is working with the feds to try and allow independents to play a role in the program.

The independents that do currently provide H1N1 immunizations do so under partnership agreements with their state health departments, which then provide the doses.  Some community pharmacies have told NCPA that, while they’ve signed the state agreements, the H1N1 vaccine hasn’t been made available to them even as large chains offer it.

If this describes your pharmacy, now’s a good time to ask the state health department again for H1N1 vaccine. New data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) show a growing gap between the doses of vaccine allocated for states/territories and the amount ordered or shipped. In other words, the supply crunch some independents have faced may be easing, but the only way to know for sure is to ask. Partnering with the health departments also can give independents priority over private sector orders from the national stockpile.

[For more information on these state partnerships, visit Pharmacist eLink’s Immunization Resource Center or locate your state specific H1N1 site to register as an immunizer.]

Three more points to keep in mind:

  • On December 22nd, CDC announced a poll finding that only 1 in 3 Americans have been immunized against H1N1 influenza while about half have expressed interest in receiving the vaccine. 
  • Soon, children under 9 will be due for their second dose of vaccine adding to the demand for what until very recently has been a rather limited supply.
  • National Influenza Vaccination Week has been rescheduled for January 10-16, 2010.  Visit the NIVW website for media tools, patient information in multiple languages, and widgets or simple ads for your website.

If you are already partnered with your health department and have not received sufficient quantities of vaccine NCPA wants to know!

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