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Pharmacies at center of Florida flu preparedness effort
August 3rd, 2011
ALEXANDRIA, Va. – Pharmacy retailers played a central role in a public-private campaign in Palm Beach County, Fla., to help people get ready for the upcoming flu season, according to the National Association of Chain Drug Stores.
NACDS on Tuesday highlighted the results of the partnership, published in the September/October issue of the Journal of Public Health Management and Practice and co-authored by NACDS. The report is titled "Extending the Reach: Local Health Department Collaboration with Community Pharmacies in Palm Beach County, Florida for H1N1 Influenza Pandemic Response."
The partnership included the Palm Beach County Health Department, the Palm Beach County Pharmacy Association, Walgreens, CVS/pharmacy, Publix Pharmacy and Winn-Dixie Supermarket Pharmacies.
In the effort, the Palm Beach County Health Department worked with pharmacists, community pharmacies and retail health clinics to boost access to flu prevention via an H1N1 influenza vaccine campaign and to distribute public health recommendations and information using Flu Ready Cards, according to the Journal report. Over 200,000 Flu Ready Cards were distributed in 250 pharmacies during the H1N1 pandemic, and about 40,000 doses of H1N1 vaccine were shipped to pharmacies and retail clinics to immunize individuals and families.
The report said 80% of store managers and 52% of pharmacists survey reported that the Flu Ready Cards were useful, and more than 60% of both groups thought partnership with the local health department was useful.
"Pharmacists can be an integral part of the nation's 'first-line resource' for health and wellness and can extend the reach for public health initiatives," an abstract of the Journal report stated. "The public-private collaboration between health departments and community pharmacists could improve individual and family readiness, increase access to trained and trusted professionals and strengthen overall preparedness and community resilience."
NACDS president and chief executive officer Steve Anderson noted that pharmacists in all 50 states can administer the flu vaccine, demonstrating community pharmacy's vital role in the nation's health care delivery system and a key opportunity for patient-pharmacist interaction.
"The success of this program described in the Journal of Public Health Management and Practice provides additional support for efforts to further expand the age ranges and types of vaccinations for which pharmacists have authority," Anderson said in a statement. "It also demonstrates yet again the unsurpassed value of pharmacy in improving patient health and lowering health care costs."
NACDS added that the Journal article also pointed out pharmacy's position as a frontline health care resource. "Just as Americans depend on 'first responders' in times of emergency and disaster, and use hospitals as 'first receivers' of victims, pharmacists have become the nation's 'first-line resource' for health and wellness," according to an excerpt of the article cited by NACDS. "Pharmacists are trained and trusted professionals, with easy access to the public on a 24x7 basis, in convenient and numerous locations."