APhA Letter to Biden Transition COVID-19 Advisory Board

November 20, 2020

Biden Transition COVID-19 Advisory Board
Co-chairs:    David Kessler, M.D. 
Vivek Murthy, VADM (ret.), M.D., MBA
Marcella Nunez-Smith, M.D., MPH 

c/o: Dr. Beth Cameron, Dr. Rebecca Katz, Advisors to the Biden Transition on COVID-19

RE:  Pharmacy’s Support in Your Efforts

Dear Co-Chairs Drs. Kessler, Murthy and Nunez-Smith: 

The American Pharmacists Association (APhA) writes to congratulate you on your appointments as co-chairs to the Biden Transition COVID-19 Advisory Board and offers APhA and pharmacists as valuable partners to defeat COVID-19. We look forward to working with the members of the Advisory Board to continue our work alongside all of America’s heroic healthcare workers to defeat COVID-19.

APhA is the largest association of pharmacists in the United States and the only organization advancing the entire pharmacy profession. APhA represents pharmacists in all practice settings, including community pharmacies, hospitals, long-term care facilities, physician offices, clinics, hospice settings, and government facilities. Our members strive to improve medication use, advance patient care, and enhance public health.

Pharmacists play a crucial role in pandemic response on the front lines. They are the most accessible health care providers with close to 90% of the U.S. population living within 5 miles of a pharmacy, including rural and underserved areas. More than 360,000 pharmacists have been trained to administer vaccines across the lifespan.  During the pandemic, pharmacists have been:

  • Ensuring medication access and availability to support continuous adherence to therapeutic regimens;
  • Expanding the availability of COVID-19 tests, and administering vaccines to protect children, adolescents and adults from vaccine preventable diseases, including the flu, and eventually the COVID-19 vaccine(s), when FDA approved or authorized (including qualified pharmacy technicians and State-authorized pharmacy interns, under the supervision of immunizing pharmacists); 
  • Providing evidence-based information to other health care providers and patients on medications for COVID-19 treatment and symptomatic support; 
  • Delivering in-person and telehealth services to patients with chronic conditions in collaboration with other providers; and 
  • Compounding drugs to mitigate and prevent shortages for hospitalized and other patients.

I write with four requests:

  1. Continue equitably using pharmacists as front-line responders for testing, treating, and immunizing for COVID-19, in addition to ensuring continuity of care for patients needing non-COVID-related care. Public health officials recognized the tremendous reach and value that pharmacists can provide for COVID-19 patient care and have granted pharmacists expanded authority under the Public Readiness and Emergency Preparedness Act (PREP Act) for pharmacists’ COVID-19 testing and vaccination-related patient care services. Pharmacists’ outreach and access in communities across the country have made a difference and will be critical in vaccinating the public. Pharmacists are ready, willing, and able to do more in the public health response.
  2. Partner with APhA to conduct coordinated and consistent community-based education and outreach programs relying on pharmacists as knowledgeable, trusted, and accessible health care leaders to address vaccine hesitancy and support recommended COVID-19 vaccinations. Pharmacists embedded in communities have ample opportunities to advance public health through immunization advocacy. These programs should focus on eliminating stigma, addressing vaccine hesitancy, and improving prevention and health outcomes, particularly for high priority and vulnerable patient populations. APhA is a recognized convener across the pharmacy community and among immunization neighborhood stakeholders and can work with other national organizations representing pharmacists in all practice settings and others to expand the reach of such programs.
  3. Add a pharmacist to your COVID-19 Advisory Board’s deliberations. Pharmacists and pharmacies continue to play key roles in testing, treating, and preventing COVID-19. APhA’s members are leaders and experts in pharmacists’ patient care services, including immunizations, therapeutics, patient support, and medication management. We are happy to recommend pharmacists to provide advice and input.
  4. Meet with APhA. APhA has been working during the pandemic with HHS on expanding authorities for pharmacists and using pharmacies as accessible community points for vaccination and testing. APhA brings a unique perspective because our members are in all pharmacist practice settings. We want to continue providing expertise and experience to the Biden Transition team and your Advisory Board. APhA is the pharmacy community leader in pharmacist immunization training/certification, policy, and advocacy and has been the driving force for decades to get pharmacy and pharmacists to this critical point where they can be an essential part of the solution to immunize and educate the population. We have experience and expertise to offer to the Biden COVID-19 team.

Thank you for your consideration of our requests above and for your service to the nation during this critical time. We offer the services of our subject matter expert staff and leadership and stand ready to assist the Advisory Board in any way we can and hope to hear from you about a meeting soon. Please contact me at ibernstein@aphanet.org or 202-429-7533 to discuss maximizing the use of all pharmacists and pharmacies to assist President-elect Biden and Vice President-elect Harris in successfully defeating COVID-19. 


Ilisa BG Bernstein, PharmD, JD, FAPhA
Senior Vice President, Pharmacy Practice and Government Affairs

Luciana Borio, M.D. 
Rick Bright, Ph.D. 
Ezekiel Emanuel, M.D., Ph.D. 
Atul Gawande, M.D., MPH
Celine Gounder, M.D., ScM, FIDSA 
Julie Morita, M.D. 
Michael Osterholm, Ph.D, MPH 
Loyce Pace, MPH
Robert Rodriguez, M.D.
Eric Goosby, M.D.