Millions of Americans who live in “pharmacy deserts” could have extra trouble accessing coronavirus vaccines quickly, according to a new analysis by GoodRx.
Why it matters: Places without nearby pharmacies, or with a large population-to-pharmacy ratio, may need to rely on mass vaccination sites or other measures to avoid falling behind.
The big picture: Pharmacies will play a huge role in the vaccine rollout, especially as shots become more available to the general population.
- But if people have to drive far to get a shot, or if pharmacies can’t keep up with local demand, that could leave millions of Americans vulnerable to the virus for longer than people in better-served areas.
- “Pharmacy deserts in turn create ‘vaccine deserts’ where the rate of vaccination is slower simply because there arent enough vaccination appointments available due to limited pharmacy capacity,” the GoodRx analysis says.
- “The rollout of the COVID-19 vaccine may take even longer without additional resources like mass vaccination sites,” it says.
By the numbers: The incoming Biden administration has set a goal of vaccinating 100 million people in 100 days, or about 16% of the unvaccinated U.S. population, per GoodRx.
- But “nearly half of all counties would have a slower local vaccination rate, generating further healthcare access inequities in areas that are already more likely to be under-resourced in the fight against COVID-19,” the analysis concludes.
- 177 counties don’t have any pharmacies at all, leaving 635,000 people forced between foregoing a vaccine or potentially driving long distances to get one.
Go deeper: The growth of “pharmacy deserts”