Pharmacy Vaccination Service Availability in Nonmetropolitan Counties


With the authorization of vaccines for COVID-19, plans for administering those vaccinations across the U.S. are being implemented. The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has partnered with 19 "large chain pharmacies and networks that represent independent pharmacies and regional chains" to administer the vaccine. As extensive as that network of pharmacy providers is, it does not include a number of nonmetropolitan counties. This brief uses data from the National Council for Prescription Drug Programs to identify counties where there are no pharmacies identified as providing vaccination services.

More than 100 nonmetropolitan counties (n=110) with a total population of 263,007 people have no pharmacy. A much larger number of counties (n=750) do not have a retail pharmacy directly affiliated with one of the 19 HHS "partner" chains/networks. An unknown number of pharmacies have a third party contracting group arrangement with one of the partners and so the number of counties without a "partner pharmacy" is likely lower. If pharmacies indicating that they currently provide immunization service are added to the list of identified partner pharmacies, there are still 326 nonmetropolitan counties (total population more than 1.5 million people) with no pharmacy providing immunization service.

Rapid Response to Requests for Rural Data Analysis, RUPRI Center for Rural Health Policy Analysis
Fred Ullrich, Keith Mueller