CEO's Message: When things get tough, pharmacies step up

Updated on November 5, 2021 (Originally posted on November 1, 2021) The Tablet

In a blink, the summer is gone and we are hunkering down for a winter with the continued twists and turns of COVID-19 and an unpredictable flu season. 

As you are reading this, you are no doubt knee-deep in the 2021/2022 flu season. All indications point to demand this year outstripping the previous. Public health suggestions that this year’s flu bug could be bad has many people looking for the added protection a flu shot provides — especially with many things unknown about where COVID-19 goes next.

This year’s flu season has a particular significance: it is the first flu campaign where direct distribution is in place. This represents a huge milestone for pharmacy in B.C. It is something that everyone has advocated for — the Association, the distributors and the companies. So it was very good news to have this proceed as a follow-up to the direct distribution of the COVID-19 vaccines. Direct distribution will enable greater flexibility in getting the vaccines to where they are needed most and when and this ensures that British Columbians get their shots as early as possible.

The Association is very happy to support the BCCDC in this year’s campaign by working with pharmacies to determine their capacity and to get them the right amounts of vaccines to meet their patients’ needs. We appreciate the opportunity to work with the BCCDC team and all of the pharmacies involved in this year’s program. We are all partners in getting the job done.

You will know, we have been working with the Province’s vaccine team and BCCDC to get ready for the COVID-19 booster shot program. I want to give a special thanks to all the pharmacies that participated in the Pilot Project in August and September.

The program provided invaluable input on what is needed to have pharmacies integrate into the provincial booking system — ImmsBC — and to get on-boarded and trained to use the system. There is a lot of work ahead for community pharmacy to work with the Province to provide COVID-19 booster shots. This critical work will help B.C. continue to manage the pandemic that has lingered much longer than any of us had hoped.

I have been so encouraged by the positive response our team has received from pharmacies big and small, across the province, to our inquiries about participating in the booster program. With all the pressure of the flu campaign, pharmacists raised their hands and said ‘count us in’ on the COVID-19 boosters.

Just as pharmacists did last March when asked to help use 18,000 Astra Zeneca shots that were about to expire, you are once again showing that pharmacy can be counted on when things get tough. This is something I have learned over the years in working with the Association and in getting to know so many pharmacists across the province.

When the need is urgent, pharmacists can be counted on to pitch in and get the job done. So thank you all for the work you are doing to make the flu campaign a success and for continuing to support B.C.’s COVID 19 response.  

Geraldine Vance
Chief Executive Officer
BC Pharmacy Association

This article is featured in The Tablet. The Tablet features pharmacy and industry news, profiles on B.C. pharmacists, information on research developments and new products.