It's time for pharmacists to help tackle monkeypox, ASHP leader says

When the U.S. government declared monkeypox a public health emergency Aug. 4, nothing was said about whether pharmacists would aid the vaccination effort. The American Society of Health-System Pharmacists is looking to fix that.

Currently, states are deciding how their short supply of monkeypox vaccines are being administered, and a few of the hardest-hit cities are launching pop-up monkeypox vaccination sites, but there isn't a uniform task force yet.

Pharmacists have been inoculating people for decades, but the emergency declaration doesn't automatically authorize the nation's 60,000 pharmacy workers to administer the monkeypox vaccine. For that, the HHS would have to invoke the Public Readiness and Emergency Preparedness Act, which the ASHP urged the department to do in an Aug. 4 letter

The HHS has a precedent for issuing the PREP Act during public health emergencies, as it's currently in use for the COVID-19 pandemic, but the ASHP's senior director of pharmacy practice and quality told Becker's he thinks the HHS hasn't enacted it yet because of vaccine supply issues.

"As the supply of vaccines expands, if there's a need, we have an entire workforce available to help improve access," Michael Ganio, PharmD, said.

Dr. Ganio said it's unlikely the monkeypox outbreak will require mass immunization sites, which were used to vaccinate people during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, but stressed the need to proactively employ pharmacists.

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