Since the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic, a lot has been said about pharmacies playing an expanded role in healthcare delivery. And while pharmacy leaned into providing a variety of different primary and preventative care services, pharmacy’s ability to quickly and effectively immunize millions of Americans is what forever changed the healthcare delivery model as we know it.
Based on a study of over 10 million Medicare beneficiaries in the OmniSYS network, it is clear that the pandemic has created a seismic shift towards pharmacy as the preferred setting of care for immunizations.
Here are a few key findings from the study:
- Retail pharmacy continues to gain immunization market share. COVID-19 represented the first pharmacist-administered vaccine for more than four million Medicare beneficiaries, even though half of all Medicare beneficiaries received a COVID-19 vaccine ahead of the CDC’s Federal Retail Pharmacy Program launch in mid-February.
- Retail pharmacy saw a significant increase in net new immunization patients. Our data showed that more than 80% of Medicare beneficiaries who received a COVID-19 vaccine at retail pharmacy had no history of previously receiving a flu shot in the pharmacy setting.
- Retail pharmacy’s impact is greater in rural areas. When we looked at this same Medicare population’s immunization rates at the county level, pharmacies in rural areas made a 31% greater impact on COVID-19 vaccinations compared with pharmacies in metropolitan areas where there is greater access to care.