Last week NACDS, with support from the Association of State and Territorial Health Officials (ASTHO) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), held a meeting to discuss strategies to improve public-private partnerships, which would lead to earlier and more broadly available pandemic vaccine.

 The public health community works with pharmacists and pharmacies to enhance the delivery of essential immunizations and other medications to advance public health priorities. As the face of neighborhood healthcare, pharmacies and pharmacists offer convenient and accessible patient-centered services every day, and during public health emergencies.

During the meeting, NACDS, CDC, ASTHO, and the American Pharmacists Association (APhA) presented an overview of a formalized Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) template, which outlines a standardized pandemic preparedness approach in community pharmacy.  The draft MOU, vetted by NACDS and other partner organizations, formalizes responsibilities between state-level public health agencies and community pharmacies in pandemic vaccination planning and response, specifically related to federally purchased and procured pandemic vaccine. The process to implement this MOU is currently being piloted with community pharmacies and health departments in Arkansas, Tennessee and Georgia.

Panelists from state health departments and state pharmacy associations highlighted the successful partnerships and pandemic planning work being done in their states: Kentucky, Washington and Michigan.  Following in-depth discussion regarding the barriers and benefits community pharmacies face in planning for pandemics, the CDC closed the meeting by sharing its national vision for pharmacy and public health collaboration and a future scale-up of the pilot project.