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Rural community pharmacists' ability and interest in administering COVID-19 vaccines in the Southern United States.

Carpenter DM, Hastings T, Westrick S, Mashburn P, Rosenthal M, Smith M, Kiser S, Gamble A, Brewer NT, Curran G. Rural community pharmacists' ability and interest in administering COVID-19 vaccines in the Southern United States. Journal of the American Pharmacists Association : JAPhA. 2022 Jul 1; 62(4):1379-1383.

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BACKGROUND: Community pharmacists are often the most accessible health professional in rural areas, which makes them well positioned to increase vaccine access in their communities. This study sought to document rural pharmacists' ability to and interest in administering coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) vaccinations. METHODS: A sample of community pharmacists participating in a rural community pharmacy practice-based research network in the United States completed an online survey that assessed (1) demographic characteristics, (2) previous COVID-19 vaccine training, and (3) ability to administer COVID-19 vaccines. Data were collected between late December 2020 and mid-February 2021. Descriptive statistics and correlations were calculated. RESULTS: A total of 69 of 106 pharmacists completed the survey (response rateĀ  = 65%). Approximately half of pharmacists were ready (52%) or actively taking steps (39%) to provide COVID-19 vaccines in the next 6 months. Pharmacies had a median of 2 staff members who were authorized to administer COVID-19 vaccines. Almost half (46%) estimated they could administer more than 30 vaccinations per day. Most pharmacies could store vaccines at standard refrigeration (90%) and freezing (83%) levels needed for thawed and premixed vaccines, respectively. Most pharmacists planned to access COVID-19 vaccines through an agreement with a state or local public health entity (48%) or by ordering through group purchasing organizations (46%). Only 23% of pharmacists had received any COVID-19 vaccine training, and only 48% very much wanted to get the vaccine themselves. Several variables, including pharmacy type and pharmacists' vaccine attitudes and previous COVID-19 training, were significantly associated (P < 0.05) with the anticipated number of COVID-19 vaccines pharmacies could administer daily. CONCLUSION: Even early in the nation's COVID-19 vaccine rollout, most rural pharmacies were interested in and preparing to administer COVID-19 vaccines. Few rural pharmacists had received COVID-19 training, and many expressed some hesitancy to receive the vaccine themselves. The number of vaccines pharmacists could administer varied with pharmacy and pharmacist characteristics.

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