Oregon offers to pay pharmacies to administer COVID-19 vaccines
The Oregon Health Authority is offering to pay pharmacies $ 35 for each dose of COVID-19 vaccine they administer, with the goal of increasing vaccination rates.
According to the health authority’s database, 79% of people 18 or older in Oregon have received at least their first dose of the vaccine.
Additionally, the Statesman Journal reports that the program – which launched this month – directly addresses staff shortages at pharmacies, where the growing workload has resulted in long queues across the state. In some cases, clients have reported having to wait two or three hours to collect their prescriptions.
The state is offering to pay temporary pharmacists to bolster the workforce, said Rudy Owens, public affairs specialist for the Oregon Health Authority.
However, the Temporary Staffing Program is only available to independent pharmacies. Company-owned pharmacies are not eligible, but they can still receive payment for vaccines from the state.
To qualify for the payments, pharmacies must meet certain ‘vaccine fairness’ standards, including offering multilingual signs for COVID-19 vaccinations, ‘expanded vaccine advice to build confidence in vaccination’ and “A continuous evaluation and continuous improvement plan. to ensure equitable access ”, according to a leaflet from the health authority.
Owens said the state does not yet have data on how many pharmacies have requested the additional payments.
Officials say pharmacy staff shortages were exacerbated by the closure of more than 35 Bi-Mart pharmacies earlier this month and the limited reimbursements pharmacies receive from so-called pharmacy benefit managers.
Brian Mayo, executive director of the Oregon State Pharmacy Association, told the Statesman Journal that if these reimbursements were “fair,” pharmacies could hire more employees and the lines would be shorter.
Mayo said that due to the staff crisis, community pharmacies in Oregon are five to 14 days late to fill prescriptions because they cannot meet demand.
“Pharmacists, technicians and interns work as fast as they can,” Mayo said. “In many cases, they are forced to continue working without mandatory breaks and to voluntarily work more unsaved hours in order to be able to provide care to their clients. They want to help patients. That’s why they chose this profession, but it feels like things are getting out of hand.
– The Associated Press