111 rural counties have no pharmacies able to give COVID-19 vaccines, report finds

One hundred eleven U.S. counties have no pharmacies that are able to administer COVID-19 vaccines, according to a report from the Rural Policy Research Institute

Most of the counties were between the Mississippi River and the Rocky Mountains, Kaiser Health News reported March 3. 

The report shows that thousands of Americans living in these pharmacy deserts may struggle to find a COVID-19 vaccine when they become eligible. 

Eighty-nine percent of Americans live within 5 miles of a pharmacy, but more than 1.6 million must travel more than 20 miles to get to the nearest pharmacy, according to a report released Feb. 2 by the University of Pittsburgh School of Pharmacy and the West Health Policy Center. This means many Americans may have to drive long distances twice to get a two-dose vaccine, which could discourage vaccination. 

Changing pharmacy industry economics, such as national pharmacy chain consolidation, forced 1,231 independent rural pharmacies to close between 2003 and 2018, according to Kaiser Health News

Many smaller pharmacies struggle to meet the storage requirements for the COVID-19 vaccines, Kaiser Health News reported. The pharmacies would have to purchase special freezers cold enough to store Pfizer's vaccine, so many small pharmacies were limited to carrying the Moderna vaccine, Kyle Lancaster, pharmacy director for Our Valley Pharmacy in Lincoln County, Wy., told Kaiser Health News

Johnson & Johnosn's vaccine should be easier for small pharmacies to handle, as it doesn't require ultralow temperatures, and the FDA recently authorized Pfizer's vaccine to be stored at higher temperatures for up to two weeks, which may increase access to the vaccine for smaller pharmacies. 

Read the full article here

More articles on pharmacy:
Merck to manufacture J&J's COVID-19 vaccine
People with allergic reactions to Pfizer, Moderna vaccines can get J&J shot as second dose, CDC scientist says
WHO advises against hydroxychloroquine to prevent COVID-19


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