Expanded Roles of Pharmacies in COVID-19 Tests and Vaccinations: Adapting Your Resources

By Francis Okeke, PharmD

March 25, 2022

Expanded Roles of Pharmacies in COVID-19 Tests and Vaccinations: Adapting Your Resources

The new realities of the COVID-19 pandemic have helped healthcare professionals around the world take on new roles. As a core part of the healthcare delivery system, pharmacies also play an important role in minimizing the negative impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Scientific studies have highlighted some other of the emerging roles of pharmacies as increased participation in drug supply chains, delivery of telemedicine services, special medication delivery plans for patients with chronic illnesses, health education, etc.

Beyond dispensing and basic pharmaceutical care, pharmacies must now find ways to create innovative solutions to the new demands arising from the COVID-19 response. In this article, we explore some of the expanded roles of pharmacies in the COVID-19 response and how to adapt new and existing resources to handle these new roles.

Expanded Roles of Pharmacies in COVID-19 Response

Several countries all over the world have started to authorize and equip pharmacies to carry out COVID-19 tests and vaccination. In some regions, pharmacy technicians can carry out point-of-care tests for COVID-19 to ensure adequate preventive measures are taken and supportive care is provided to the patients.

Also, as frontline members of the healthcare team, pharmacies play a pivotal role in the delivery of the COVID-19 vaccines. Countries that involved pharmacies in the vaccination process have shown a high level of vaccination in their population.

Due to the limitations in physical interactions brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic, pharmacies are also saddled with the responsibility of finding new ways to facilitate service delivery. Collaborating with other members of the healthcare team, pharmacies have been able to deliver their services leveraging telemedicine platforms. From virtual consultation sessions to reduce the need for on-site visits to digitizing patient information for necessary healthcare providers and having medicines and medical supplies delivered to patients’ homes.

Also, due to the COVID-19 restrictions on physical interactions and movement, several drug supply chains were affected. This created an increased need for pharmacies to get more involved in the supply chains to ensure that patients got their medication when needed. Ensuring the drug supply chain also helps optimize the drug use process minimizing expiry and wastage.

Leveraging telemedicine options, pharmacies are also able to serve an increased number of people, expanding the coverage of their services beyond just their immediate environment. This realization creates increased demand in the basic pharmacy services as pharmacies can verify more orders remotely and in some scenarios, even supervise simple compounding processes.

As frontline healthcare providers, pharmacies are also responsible for dispelling several myths and misinformation that emerged during the pandemic to protect their patients from harmful medication use and lifestyle practices.

Adapting Resources for Expanded Roles

The expanded roles of pharmacies create a need for acquiring some new resources and repurposing some old ones. While some pharmacies have been able to achieve this, this has been a major bottleneck for several pharmacy managers. However, here are some tips to positioning your pharmacy for the emerging realities from the COVID-19 pandemic.

1. Human Resources

A major step to positioning your pharmacy for handling some of the expanded roles from the COVID-19 pandemic is having your staff trained on necessary processes. All staff should be adequately trained on proper infection control processes. However, selected pharmacists and pharmacy technicians should be trained on the COVID-19 testing and vaccination processes.

All staff involved in the telemedicine process should be trained on the relevant hardware and software tools and how to effectively use this tool in the course of their work. Based on the changes made to the drug supply processes, storekeepers and other logistics staff involved in the process should also be trained appropriately, especially on the handling and storage of COVID-19 vaccines and any other medical supplies that are novel.

Another important tip is to design new key performance indices (KPIs) in line with your expanded roles. This makes it relatively easier to carry out appraisals in line with the set indices.

2. Technology

If you already use Pharmacy Management Software on your premise, there might be some need to optimize the software in line with the increased responsibilities of your pharmacy. This ranges from optimizing your software to effectively managing personnel, inventory control, task scheduling, and shift rotation.

Keeping electronic medical records and facilitating some basic telemedicine services can also be a major plus if you are just looking out to get new software. However, some Pharmacy Management Systems allow for the integration with third-party platforms for additional features.

3. Processes

Processes and procedures surrounding COVID-19 tests and vaccinations should be clearly drawn up and shared with all personnel involved. From the process of acquiring the vaccines and other medical supplies to their storage and eventual administration.

Getting Started

Without a doubt, the COVID-19 pandemic has created several new opportunities for pharmacies to expand their roles in healthcare delivery. However, with these expanded roles comes a need to better optimize new and existing resources. Pharmacies are now saddled with the responsibility of worrying about basic pharmacy services and needs while also offering added services like COVID-19 tests, COVID-19 vaccines supply and administration, health education on correct therapy, and lifestyle practices during the COVID-19 pandemic, etc.

Some of the existing resources of your pharmacy can be adapted to these new demands. However, there are also some newer pharmacy management resources designed to help with these expanded roles.

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  1. Five Ways Pharmacy Expanded its Role During COVID-19- James A. Bana, Pharm.D.


  2. Expanded roles of community pharmacists in COVID-19: A scoping literature review


  3. Pharmacists' Guide To Coronavirus


  4. The Role of Hospital and Community Pharmacists in the Management of COVID-19: Towards an Expanded Definition of the Roles, Responsibilities, and Duties of the Pharmacist
  5. https://www.mdpi.com/2226-4787/8/3/140/htm

    Francis Okeke, PharmD

    Francis Okeke is a clinical pharmacist. He is adept at providing clinical and technical information to nurses, patients, and caregivers. He is well equipped with the best approaches and evidence-based practices of administering drugs and therapeutic procedures to patients. He obtained his first degrees at East Tennessee State University and Clemson University and studied further to obtain his Masters of Public Health at the Royal Institute of Health, Nigeria.