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Independent pharmacies still looking to help in vaccination effort

Major pharmacy changes are leading the vaccination efforts in long-term care facilities, but locally-owned pharmacies say they can help.

IOWA, USA — COVID-19 vaccinations continue this week in Iowa's long-term care facilities. That effort is in the hands of major pharmacies like Walgreens, CVS, and Community Pharmacy.  Some smaller, locally-owned pharmacies, however, say the process could go faster, if they were allowed to help.

"There's a network of independent pharmacies that touch every community in the state that are ready to go. It's part of what we do every day.  Why not use that existing network," said Leslie Herron, owner of Sumpter Pharmacy in Adel.

Both CVS and Walgreens started vaccinating residents of long-term care facilities in Iowa on Monday.  CVS, for example, plans on vaccinating nearly 50,000 residents and staff in 486 skilled nursing and assisted living facilities across the state over the next 12 weeks.

Hy-Vee is trying to help in these efforts as well. "As those partnerships are made with individual counties, we will then move forward and go into the long-term care facilities where we're need to assist with the vaccinations," said Christina Gayman, director of public relations for Hy-Vee.

Herron believes she and her counterparts can be part of the equation.  She feels that way, in part, because those larger pharmacies, she says, are trying to hire her.

"I probably get six recruiting calls a week, as do my staff for temporary positions," Herron said.

We tried to get answers to our questions on this issue from the Iowa Department of Public Health and the Iowa governor's office, but neither got back to us.