As we pass the one-year mark of the global COVID-19 pandemic, it is encouraging to see some very positive signs as the availability of vaccines and the number of people who are receiving them increases. As of today, at least a dozen states have made COVID-19 vaccinations available to everyone 16 and over, with all remaining states announcing their plans to do the same. To support this positive momentum, it is vital that we as a healthcare community continue to work together to build widespread public confidence in the vaccines, as they are the key to ending the harm caused by COVID-19 and getting our lives back to normal.
Today I am extremely pleased to share that I, along with Georges Benjamin, MD, executive director, American Public Health Association, and Susan Dentzer, senior policy fellow, Robert J. Margolis Center for Health Policy, Duke University, will serve as co-chairs of a significant new national multidisciplinary effort from the Get the Medications Right™ (GTMRx) Institute aimed at building confidence in the COVID-19 vaccines. The GTMRx National Task Force: Building Vaccine Confidence in the Medical Neighborhood, announced today during a virtual event hosted by the GTMRx Institute and the Bipartisan Policy Center, is designed to forge partnerships with trusted members of the medical “neighborhood” — pharmacists, physicians, nurses, and others on the patient care team, as well as public health leaders, social workers, consumer health advocates, and social marketing and community health champions — and equip them with tools and messages to promote vaccine confidence.
Pharmacists, as direct patient care providers and public health leaders, must continue to collaborate with all members of the patient care team to help build public trust in the safe and effective vaccines that have been authorized by the Food and Drug Administration. Starting with today’s kickoff event, the GTMRx National Task Force: Building Vaccine Confidence in the Medical Neighborhood will meet several times over the next 90 days to develop a set of recommendations on steps that should be taken to continue to build vaccine confidence. I look forward to working with Dr. Benjamin and Ms. Dentzer, along with the full task force of distinguished interprofessional experts, listed below, to develop these actionable recommendations.
Task Force Members:
- Kate Berry, Senior Vice President, Clinical Affairs and Strategic Partnerships, America’s Health Insurance Plans
- Ernest Grant, Ph.D., RN, FAAN, President, American Nurses Association
- Ann Greiner, President and Chief Executive Officer, Primary Care Collaborative
- Paul Grundy, MD, MPH, FACOEM, FACPM, Chief Transformation Officer, Innovaccer; President, GTMRx Institute
- Doug Henley, MD, FAAFP, Executive Vice President and Chief Executive Officer Emeritus, American Academy of Family Physicians
- Connie Hwang, MD, MPH, Chief Medical Officer and Director of Clinical Innovation, Alliance of Community Health Plans
- Punam Keller, Ph.D., MBA, Senior Associate Dean, Innovation and Growth, Charles Henry Jones Third Century Professor of Management, Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth
- Mike Maddux, Pharm.D., Executive Director, American College of Clinical Pharmacists
- Darilyn Moyer, MD, FACP, FRCP, FIDSA, Executive Vice President and Chief Executive Officer, American College of Physicians
- Debra Ness, MS, President, National Partnership for Women & Families
- Anand Parekh, MD, MPH, Chief Medical Advisor, Bipartisan Policy Center
- Kathleen Pawlicki, BPharm, MS, RPh, FASHP, Immediate Past President, ASHP
- Marcus Plescia, MD, MPH, Chief Medical Officer, Association of State and Territorial Health Officials
- Chris Queram, MA, Interim Chief Executive Officer, National Quality Forum
- Chet Robson, DO, MHCDS, FAAFP, Chief Medical Officer and Medical Director, Office of Clinical Integrity, Walgreens
- Julia Skapik, MD, MPH, Medical Director, National Association of Community Health Centers
- Richard Stone, MD, Acting Under Secretary for Health, Veterans Health Administration
- Mike Thompson, President and Chief Executive Officer, National Alliance of Healthcare Purchaser Coalitions
- Toyin Tofade, MS, Pharm.D., BCPS, CPCC, FFIP, Dean and Professor, Howard University
- Antonia “Toni” Villarruel, Ph.D., RN, FAAN, Professor and Dean of Nursing, University of Pennsylvania; past-President, Founding Member National Coalition of Ethnic Minority Nursing Associations; past-President of the National Association of Hispanic Nurses
- Susan Winckler, RPh, Esq., Chief Executive Officer, Reagan-Udall Foundation for the Food and Drug Administration
Pharmacists are absolutely essential to establishing and leading vaccination efforts, administering vaccines, partnering on public education campaigns, gaining and maintaining trust within the community, and building continued vaccine confidence. As trusted voices in their communities, pharmacists are the reliable source for important information about vaccines and other medicines, including for underserved populations. As I will discuss in an upcoming podcast with Kathy Pawlicki and ASHP President Tom Johnson, it is essential for pharmacists to be at the table, have a voice, and contribute to developing public health messaging and policies.
I encourage you to visit ASHP’s COVID-19 Vaccines page, which includes a wealth of tools, resources, and recommendations about the vaccines, including our latest guidance, Essential Elements of a Successful Mass Immunization Program, and an infographic highlighting the vital roles pharmacists play in vaccine distribution, allocation, monitoring, and surveillance.
I hope you share our excitement about the new GTMRx National Task Force: Building Vaccine Confidence in the Medical Neighborhood. We truly believe that this unique multidisciplinary national effort is going to make a major difference, and we hope that pharmacy professionals in every setting will support the task force and implement its recommendations. Our patients, communities, and partners around the world are counting on us to help bring an end to this devastating pandemic.
As always, thank you for all that you do for your patients and our profession.