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Pharmacists on the Front Lines as First COVID-19 Vaccines Arrive

By Paul Abramowitz posted 12-16-2020 14:33

  

Dear Colleagues,

As 2020 comes to a close, we have reached a turning point in the COVID-19 pandemic. Many of our members have received or are about to receive shipments of the first available vaccine. This is a historic moment for all pharmacists, student pharmacists, and pharmacy technicians nationwide.

Pharmacists were front and center in news media coverage as the first shipments of the vaccine arrived at U.S. hospitals and healthcare facilities. ASHP is so proud of our members for serving on the front lines of care and demonstrating our professional expertise to the nation as the cameras rolled. Media outlets, including CNN, MSNBC, the Associated Press, and others, featured ASHP members in stories that can be viewed on our website.

Last week, as we prepared for the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to authorize the emergency use of the first vaccine, ASHP members were also called upon to showcase their expertise in major media outlets such as the TODAY Show, NBC Dateline, and the Washington Post.

It is so gratifying to see our profession and our hardworking members recognized for their critical role on the front lines of the pandemic and, as medication use experts across the full continuum of care.

While you – our members – are out front, ASHP’s work continues as we collaborate with other leading organizations to support you. Last week, ASHP issued a joint statement with 17 healthcare organizations outlining our support of the vaccine and our confidence that the FDA has taken extraordinary care to ensure that the vaccine is safe and effective. In fact, most pharmacists surveyed noted that they expect to be vaccinated themselves and plan to recommend the vaccine to their patients. As trusted healthcare providers, this will be an important step in countering any misinformation or vaccine hesitancy.

ASHP has issued 10 guiding principles for COVID-19 vaccine development, distribution, allocation, and mass immunization. The principles note the critical importance of gaining and maintaining trust within all communities by providing evidence-based education about the safety and efficacy of the COVID-19 vaccines.

Recently, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices recommended that pharmacy personnel be included in the highest priority vaccine allocation and distribution group (Phase 1a). ASHP wholeheartedly supports this recommendation because our members provide direct patient care on interdisciplinary teams in many settings and specialties, including critical care units, emergency departments, and infectious disease units caring for patients with active COVID-19 infections. Pharmacists also provide direct patient care in ambulatory and community settings, addressing high-risk patient populations’ chronic care needs.

As healthcare organizations decide which employees will be first in line for COVID-19 vaccinations, ASHP believes that pharmacists and pharmacy technicians should be among those in the first group, along with other healthcare workers who risk exposure to SARS-CoV-2.

New COVID-19 Resources

ASHP continues to provide the resources you need to stay up-to-date on the latest vaccine efforts.

To support pharmacists who will be administering the COVID-19 vaccine, today ASHP is making a number of vaccine-related CE sessions available free of charge on our online learning platform. These sessions will be available to members and non-members. For a listing of the relevant courses, visit ASHP eLearning. Sessions are specifically designated with a “06” ACPE suffix number to identify them as immunization-focused. In addition, we also recently re-opened access to the latest version of ASHP’s Critical Care Pharmacy Specialty Review Course, Practice Exam, and Core Therapeutic Modules package, making it available to all pharmacists at no cost through March 31, 2021. These are just two examples of how ASHP continues to ensure that all members of the healthcare community have access to these vital resources as pandemic response continues.

Our dedicated COVID-19 Vaccine webpage includes tools, resources, and other support that I encourage you to utilize. Today, we also published an infographic highlighting ASHP’s vaccine leadership efforts and released a podcast about ambulatory care perspectives on the COVID-19 pandemic and influenza vaccination. Watch for a special issue of NewsLink dedicated to COVID-19. I encourage you to check out all of these important new resources. We’re also continually updating and adding tools to our COVID-19 Resource Center, including our COVID-19 Diagnostic Testing Chart, COVID-19 Vaccine Assessment Tool, and ASHP’s Assessment of Evidence for COVID-19-Related Treatments.

We will never forget 2020. Not the lives lost nor the pandemic’s immense toll on our colleagues, families, and communities. We will, however, also remember the great heroism from individuals who did not shy away from the trauma and the hardship. We will remember the acts of selflessness and the relentless determination of the scientific and healthcare communities in the face of so many unknowns and uncertainties. With one COVID-19 vaccine authorized and others on the horizon, it is very heartening to end this year with positive momentum and hope.

On behalf of all of us at ASHP, I want to extend our deepest gratitude for all you have done during this tumultuous year and for your dedicated service to your profession and patients.

I wish you healthy and happy holidays and look forward to a bright and prosperous new year ahead.

Sincerely,

Paul

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