The 2009 pandemic caused by H1N1 pales in comparison to coronavirus. Just six months after the first case of the flu variant was detected on US soil, doctors had a vaccine in hand. Technically, the pandemic was over by the time they could administer the shots.
The H1N1 vaccine was deployed ideally—with urgency, but not necessity. It also spurred a dramatic change in vaccine delivery that’s lasted to this day: It triggered laws that allow retail pharmacists to administer vaccines within their communities. Now, as the race for a Covid-19 vaccine continues, that groundwork could make it easier to immunize against the novel coronavirus once a shot reaches the market.
In the US, a number of different healthcare providers can administer vaccines, from clinical nurses to midwives. But H1N1 highlighted the need for pharmacists to administer immunizations. It’s much more convenient to drop into a pharmacy than it is to schedule an appointment at a doctor’s office, and in a pandemic situation where large populations need to get vaccinated at the same time, the healthcare system needs all hands on deck.
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