Vaccines stored in cold storage

COVID-19 vaccines kept away in cold storage. Photo courtesy of CVS.

GREAT FALLS - As different agencies look at expanding vaccination efforts against COVID-19, one group says a new transfer program could make them more accessible to the public.

In a press conference, the National Association of Chain Drug Stores (NACDS) said any state taking part in this program can move unused vaccines from the shelf to community pharmacies. 

According to the group, this plan can better meet demand for the vaccinations after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention revised their vaccination recommendations, representing a priority group of 250 million Americans nationwide. 

“Based on conservative assumptions, pharmacies have the capacity to meet the demand for 100 million vaccine doses in just one month,” said Steven Anderson, NACDS’s President & Chief Executive Officer, calling that a conservative estimate. 

Kathleen Jaeger, the senior vice president of Pharmacy Care & Patient Advocacy, says their often close locations and experience in giving shots for the flu and H1N1 makes pharmacies a go-to solution for reaching more people. 

“With the accessibility and the confidence of being a traditional vaccinator, it makes quite a lot of sense and is critical to reach the most vulnerable [populations],” she said.  

Jaeger tells Montana Right Now pharmacies may use an appointment system to avoid long lines. However, reaching that possible increase in vaccinations all boils down to available supply.  “Once supply is readily available, we’ll be able to very easily, swiftly efficiently and effectively safely administer this vaccine,” said Jaeger.  

Montana DPHHS does list pharmacies as a group they’re working with in vaccine distributions. The state allows enrolled COVID vaccine providers to share their supply between each other as needed as long as they file paperwork for tracking purposes, according to Jon Ebelt, with the agency’s public information office. 

Ebelt says Montana currently has 200 providers around the state. 

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