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Ministries of health and regulators can now make use of a tool produced by the International Pharmaceutical Federation (FIP) to enhance strategies and create the necessary regulatory frameworks to combat the Covid-19 pandemic through pharmacist-led vaccination programmes. The resource has been developed based on the experiences of regulators in countries where pharmacy-based vaccination and testing have been successfully introduced and regulated, said the FIP.

“As highly accessible healthcare professionals located in small and large communities around the world, pharmacists can greatly contribute to public health and bringing pandemics under control. A number of countries have recognised the value of harnessing the potential of the pharmacy profession through pharmacy-based vaccination programmes but many more could do so,” said the Federation.

“However, successful strategies that involve pharmacists need to be grounded in public protection, quality of care and an in-depth understanding of needs at country level with regard to vaccination and testing services. Resource requirements, such as workforce qualifications and training, infrastructure and funding, also need to be considered,” said Mr Ronald Guse, chair of FIP’s Forum of Professional Regulators. 

In the face of current and future waves of Covid-19, FIP’s tool aims to help policy-makers to assess pandemic preparedness and the state of legislation within their country in order to facilitate mass vaccination through pharmacists. It consists of a checklist that helps to identify priority actions related to vaccination, testing, prescribing and supply chain management. 

“FIP’s pharmacy-based vaccination self-assessment tool places a priority on patient care and public protection during a pandemic through the passing of enabling legislation with regulatory oversight and quality assurance. It may also be useful as a review tool in countries where pharmacists already play testing- or vaccine-related roles but could further expand or consolidate such roles,” Mr Guse said. 

He added: “Drafting or enacting new or amended laws can be slow, and it may be simpler and faster to develop regulations under an enabling law instead. In particular, FIP and its member organisations can be a resource for the appropriate drafting and development of supportive regulations, policies, standards of care and training programmes.

“If a permanent change in the legislation is not possible, health ministers and regulators ought to consider developing new legislation that allows for expanded functions of the pharmacist on an emergency basis to address patient care needs in a pandemic or other declared emergencies. Improving vaccination access and coverage is a global imperative and policy-makers must enable pharmacists to contribute to this goal.”