The Impact of Pharmacist Vaccination Privilege during a Nation-Wide Measles Outbreak

The 2019 measles outbreak was the worst since the US eliminated measles in 2000. This paper presents the vaccination trends for a large chain-pharmacy, Walgreens, and examines the estimated vaccination capacity and impact of pharmacist privilege policies across states. Specifically, we estimated the number of people who could have been vaccinated in eight states with reduced or no measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR) vaccination privilege during the study period January-June, 2019.

During the study period, Walgreens pharmacists administered MMR vaccines to 62,526 patients, a 231.9% increase. If pharmacists had been permitted to vaccinate against measles in the eight states investigated, Walgreens pharmacies would have administered between 12,404 and 36,551 additional vaccinations during that time. We also estimated all chain pharmacies’ capacity to vaccinate in one state that was severely impacted by the measles outbreak, New York, using a range from normal pharmacy operating conditions to maximum capacity. Assuming sufficient demand, it was estimated that chain pharmacies in New York State would have the capacity to vaccinate between 47,688 and 174,856 patients daily, achieving MMR vaccination (first dose) of the measles-susceptible population within 8-28 days. Overall, this study demonstrates the public health value of pharmacist vaccination privilege during a nation-wide outbreak of measles.