Objective: Palm Beach County Health Department (PBCHD) in Florida collaborated with pharmacists, community pharmacies, and pharmacy-based retail health clinics to increase access to influenza prevention through a widespread H1N1 influenza vaccination campaign and to disseminate timely and accurate public health recommendations and information using Flu Ready Cards. Selected pharmacy and store managers were surveyed, before and after distribution of H1N1 vaccine regarding issues facing pharmacists and the public in deciding whether or not to recommend or accept influenza vaccinations.
Participants: Palm Beach County Health Department collaborated with Walgreens and CVS pharmacies, Publix and Winn-Dixie Super Market Pharmacies, and the Palm Beach County Pharmacy Association.
Outcomes: More than 200000 Flu Ready Cards were distributed in 250 pharmacies between September 2009 and March 2010 as part the county-wide H1N1 influenza pandemic response. Approximately 40000 doses of H1N1 vaccine (12% of the PBCHD allocation) were shipped to local pharmacies and retail health clinics to immunize individuals and families, including those most at risk, vulnerable, or without a medical home. Eighty percent of surveyed store managers and 52% of pharmacists reported the Flu Ready Cards were useful and more than 60% of both groups felt partnership with the local health department was useful during the H1N1 pandemic.
Conclusions: The collaborative relationship proved invaluable for distributing, transferring, and administering the H1N1 influenza vaccine, managing access to antivirals, and serving as a vital link to hospitals and other healthcare providers. Pharmacists can be an integral part of the nation's “first line resource” for health and wellness and can extend the reach for public health initiatives. The public-private collaboration between health departments and community pharmacists could improve individual and family readiness, increase access to trained and trusted professionals and strengthen overall preparedness and community resilience.