On February 1, 2021, reporting COVID vaccine information through your Federal Pharmacy Partner became a requirement. This is in addition to the existing requirement to report immunization data to your state registry. Community pharmacies should verify if their pharmacy management system is capable of effectively transmitting both reporting requirements in order to remain compliant.
Subsequently on February 2, 2021, the Biden administration announced that COVID-19 vaccines would be shipped directly to retail pharmacies within the month. This effort from the White House shows the increased acknowledgement of pharmacists and their role in combatting COVID-19. Local pharmacies are now being increasingly relied upon to provide access to care.
If your business operations, staff, and pharmacy management system are not ready for COVID-19 vaccine administration and required documentation your pharmacy could struggle to keep pace as the alternative to automated vaccine data transfer is duplicative manual entry.
Community Pharmacy Vaccine Distribution
More than 32 million doses of the COVID-19 vaccine have been administered in the United States as of February 2, 2021. Vaccinations began in December of 2020 and increased steadily over the last several weeks.
The program designed to deliver COVID-19 vaccines to retail pharmacies is set to begin on February 11. To start, 1 million doses will be sent to about 6,500 pharmacies. That number is expected to grow as the program expands and the weekly allocation of vaccines sent to states is increased. Immunization reporting is now required through the Federal Pharmacy Partner in which you receive your COVID-19 vaccines through.
However, not all community pharmacies should expect to receive doses of the vaccine as soon as the program begins. The limited supply of the vaccine will prevent many pharmacies from participating, however new locations will be added as supplies become available.
Public health experts in the United States have acknowledged the crucial role pharmacists will play in the push to vaccinate Americans. Independent pharmacies are easily accessible, essential health resources for patients in their communities. Pharmacies will continue to be seen as valuable resources for distributing the vaccine to urban and rural communities, including underserved populations.
How To Administer COVID-19 Vaccines for Community Pharmacies
Independent pharmacies that want to administer the COVID-19 vaccine should educate themselves on the requirements to administer, report, and bill for vaccines. Review available information on the following factors to ensure you are covered.
Medicare Provider Status
Pharmacies already enrolled in Medicare will have an easier path to administer and bill for the COVID-19 vaccine. If you are already enrolled as Part B, you will not need to enroll as a mass immunizer. Pharmacies enrolled in Medicare as a DME supplier may have to enroll separately under a different provider type, such as a mass immunizer.
If your pharmacy is not enrolled in Medicare, you have to first qualify and enroll as a mass immunizer. Other Medicare provider types that allow for vaccine billing and administration may also be acceptable.
To enroll as a mass immunizer, call your MAC-specific enrollment hotline, found here. You will be asked to provide the following information over the phone:
- Legal Business Name
- National Provider Identifier
- Tax Identification Number
- Practice Location
- State License
If granted Medicare billing privileges, your pharmacy will have a provisional ability to administer and bill COVID-19 vaccines due to the public health emergency. These privileges will be deactivated after the COVID-19 PHE declaration is lifted.
Learn more about the Medicare requirements for pharmacies administering COVID-19 vaccines through the CMS website.
Before you and your staff can administer COVID-19 vaccines, you must have proper vaccination training. The CDC has provided a variety of training programs and reference materials for healthcare professionals planning to administer the vaccine.
Review available COVID-19 vaccination training programs and materials through the CDC website.
You should also review your state pharmacy board’s standards regarding vaccines and an immunization program for community pharmacies. Your state may require immunization training and CPR training programs as well as an immunization license. Your state pharmacy board will also specify the proper policies and procedures for documenting vaccines and reporting.
Is your pharmacy management system keeping up with COVID-19?
All of your preparation and training for the COVID-19 vaccine can be ruined if your pharmacy management system does not keep up. The following pharmacy management software features are key when administering COVID-19 vaccines at your independent pharmacy.
- Automated prescription upload
- Alerts for missing information
- Automated reporting to state registries
- COVID-19 billing capabilities
Rx30 and Computer-Rx pharmacy management solutions from Transaction Data Systems enable community pharmacists to administer, report, and bill for the COVID-19 vaccine. With automated prescription uploads and reporting to state registries, you can ensure your pharmacy is compliant with vaccination regulations.
Prepare for the COVID-19 vaccine today! If your pharmacy system is not ready, contact us to learn how TDS can support your business when it comes to administering, reporting, and billing for the COVID-19 vaccine.