Despite increased eligibility, pharmacies still limited in race to vaccinate

New York News

ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10) — At a time when pharmacies are on the front lines to getting people vaccinated, some pharmacists say drug stores aren’t being used to their full potential.

“The state run and county run vaccination sites can vaccinate anyone that’s eligible and we’re still in the one small lane,” said Pharmacist Zarina Jalal.

Pharmacies have a limited eligibility pool as to whom they can vaccinate.

“It’s just one of those challenges that we have to work through, that we have to get creative and just push through to make sure we get the vaccine out,” Jalal said.

Pharmacies are disappearing due to slim profit margins. In the largely Black South End neighborhood, Jalal’s Lincoln Pharmacy is the closest daily vaccination site for many of the area’s residents.

“There’s no reason why I shouldn’t be able to vaccinate an essential worker who works for the city sanitation,” Jalal said.

Blacks account for a larger percentage of people who have comorbidities and who are essential workers.

Starting tomorrow, pharmacies can vaccinate anyone 50 years and older. Despite now being allowed to vaccinate people who have illnesses, pharmacies like Jalal’s are only green lit to vaccinate teachers.

“There are still a lot of people who need and want the vaccine who aren’t able to get it,” Jalal said.

A group of state lawmakers have called on Governor Cuomo to allow pharmacies to vaccinate all eligible people saying that they want to “… simplify vaccination access and eliminate unnecessary barriers for patients and providers.”

These are barriers Jalal says include transportation and digital access to vaccine registration.

“There are challenges in accessing the vaccine even though there’s availability,” Jalal said.

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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