Call for Appointment of Pharmacists to COVID-19 Health Equity Task Force

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Health equity is a public health issue that has taken on renewed urgency during the COVID-19 pandemic, with communities of color disproportionately affected by this unrelenting virus. The White House recently announced appointments to the COVID-19 Health Equity Task Force, which will address health and social inequities. However, the omission of a pharmacist on this task force must be corrected by the Biden administration.

Pharmacists, who are embedded in communities across the country, consistently rank among the most trusted and ethical professionals in the U.S. and are often the primary provider the public turns to for initial healthcare prevention and assistance, particularly in underserved areas.

Through trusted relationships with their patients, pharmacists have ample opportunities to advance public health through immunization advocacy. That credibility is key to addressing vaccine hesitancy within our nation’s vulnerable minority populations. This is an invaluable asset that should be emphasized under the COVID-19 Health Equity Task Force’s recommendations regarding the equitable distribution and administration of COVID-19 vaccines. Many vulnerable minority populations at higher risk for COVID-19, influenza, and pneumococcal disease visit pharmacies more frequently than any other healthcare setting. This existing public access, trust, and relationship with pharmacists supports progress toward the vision for our nation’s efforts to address health inequities and reinforces the vital expertise and experience that a pharmacist will provide to the task force.

We support the appointment of the following individuals for the COVID-19 Health Equity Task Force:

1. Lakesha M. Butler, PharmD, BCPS, Immediate Past President of the National Pharmaceutical Association, is a leading expert in pharmacy practice and has been instrumental in identifying and implementing effective strategies for pharmacists to combat racism and health inequities.

2. Vivian Bradley Johnson, Pharm.D., M.B.A., FASHP, Senior Vice President of Clinical Services at Parkland Health and Hospital System, is a clinical pharmacist by training, overseeing 1,500 employees engaged in the fight against COVID-19, and leader in engaging communities of color around COVID-19 vaccination and testing.

3. A federal government pharmacist who offers significant insights and experience in improving the health of racial and ethnic populations and in addressing health inequities.

Thank you for helping urge the administration to consider adding pharmacists to the COVID-19 Health Equity Task Force and considering the pharmacy profession’s nominations of Dr. Lakesha Butler, Dr. Vivian Bradley Johnson, and/or a federal government pharmacist.