Tuesday, January 05, 2021

One third of rural counties lack a pharmacy listed in coronavirus vaccination plan; more could be added

Nonmetropolitan county HHS vaccination partnership pharmacy availability
RUPRI Center for Rural Health Policy and Analysis map; click on the image to enlarge it.

Almost one-third of rural counties don't have a pharmacy partnered with a chain or network that's participating in the federal government's coronavirus vaccination program, according to a new study. 
"The study from the Rural Policy Research Institute's Center for Rural Health Policy and Analysis found that 750 of the 1,962 nonmetropolitan counties in the study do not have a pharmacy that is listed in the federal Health and Human Services vaccine distribution partnerships," Tim Marema reports for The Daily Yonder. "The combined population of those rural counties is about 5.6 million, according to the study, or about 13 percent of the rural population."

HHS said in November the vaccine will be distributed through chains such as Rite Aid, Walgreens, Kroger, Walmart, and independent pharmacy networks such as Good Neighbor Pharmacy, Marema reports. Such locations make up 60% of the pharmacies nationwide.

An HHS announcement said other regional chains and independent pharmacies could be added to increase access to underserved areas. However, even if all pharmacies that could provide vaccines were included in the plan (see below), 326 counties still wouldn't be able to distribute the vaccine that way, Marema reports. And 110 rural counties have no pharmacy at all. 

Nonmetropolitan county pharmacy vaccination service availability, including HHS partners and other pharmacies with immunization capability. (RUPRI Center for Rural Health Policy and Analysis map; click on the image to enlarge it.)

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