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Pharmacists to play crucial role in CT's mass vaccination effort

On Monday, Governor Ned Lamont signed an executive order allowing pharmacists to give people the COVID vaccine

CONNECTICUT, USA — Editor's Note: Lamont signed the executive on December 7, not December 8. 

In the days, weeks, and months ahead, millions of doses of COVID vaccines will need to be administered to Connecticut residents. Doctors and nurses won’t be enough to meet the need. That’s where pharmacists come in.

On Monday, Governor Ned Lamont signed an executive order allowing pharmacists to give people the COVID vaccine. It’s a move intended to speed up the process and increase capacity.

Right now, hospital doctors and nurses in Connecticut have their hands full treating more than 1,100 COVID patients. "There's a shortage of healthcare providers as our census increases in our COVID patients increase," said Eric Arlia of Hartford Healthcare.

That’s why Connecticut’s healthcare army of 6,000 pharmacists is stepping up. Nathan Tinker is the CEO of the Connecticut Pharmacists Association. He said, "This obviously is going to be a major public health undertaking."

Trained and certified to provide immunizations, even pharmacy students from UConn and St. Joe’s will be vaccinated, along with retirees. 

What will the mass vaccination effort look like? "Yes, you’ll be able to walk into your pharmacy and say I want to get vaccinated and they will probably have a kiosk set up to do that. Other places will have drive-up or walk-up facilities," said Tinker.

The retail pharmacies of CVS and Walgreens are leading the federal effort to vaccinate the nursing homes and assisted living facilities. "There’s about 22,000 patients in those facilities in CT alone so they will be again leveraging pharmacists to go into these facilities," said Tinker.

Tinker told me some logistics are still being worked out. Some pharmacies have ultra-cold storage for the Pfizer vaccine while some don’t. And while the federal government requires a paper trail and vaccination card to be handed to you, the state is still working to stand up a technology-based vaccine tracking system to make sure people get their two doses spaced properly apart.

Read Lamont's executive order below: