By: Peter Matz, Director, Food and Nutrition Policy, FMI
For nearly a year, we have been navigating a national health emergency in response to the coronavirus pandemic. As part of an industry deemed essential to the nation’s COVID-19 response, FMI members have been and continue to be a critical component of ensuring the availability of food, pharmacy and health care services in communities across the nation.
During this pandemic, pharmacists have been on the front lines every day serving patients as critically important health care professionals. Among other things, supermarket pharmacists nationwide provide in-depth patient counseling and comprehensive immunization services. Given the success to date of pharmacists administering vaccines – serving as knowledgeable and accessible immunization providers within their communities and collaborating with public health and other providers – a successful COVID-19 vaccination plan should actively involve pharmacists. Moreover, grocery stores as health and well-being destinations provide consumers the ability to receive COVID-19 vaccinations when available at the same location where they already purchase food and other essentials, which not only makes vaccine access more convenient, but it also makes it safer and reduces the risk of exposure in the midst of a pandemic.
Many FMI pharmacy members have large footprints and parking lots that allow social distancing, while additional/extended store hours provide times for seniors and immunocompromised patients to receive vaccinations. Serving as knowledgeable and trusted wellness partners within their communities, supermarket pharmacies and food retailers will be essential to a successful COVID-19 vaccination plan.
To support our members as they navigate this new vaccine landscape, FMI has curated and developed new resources.
FMI has created a COVID-19 vaccine communications toolkit that promotes grocery stores as health and well-being destinations for affordable and nutritious food, dietary supplements and a full array of pharmacy services, in addition to a safe, convenient place to receive COVID-19 vaccinations.
In some states, essential workers already have access to vaccines to help protect them against COVID-19. These vaccines will be available to essential workers across the nation soon. The CDC has released a newtoolkit to help organizations educate employees about COVID-19 vaccines while raising awareness about the benefits of vaccination and addressing common questions and concerns.
To help ensure FMI member companies’ frontline essential workers can be vaccinated as soon as possible, we are providing templates that can be shared with employees to indicate/verify they are a part of a sector being prioritized for early access to the Covid-19 vaccines. There is one template for pharmacy staff, one for food and agriculture workers, and one for transportation workers.