By Thomas Berger
March 2, 2021

PPOk leads independent pharmacies in vaccination effort

Independent pharmacies teamed up to host a vaccination clinic in Edmond at the end of February.

Big problems call for big solutions, but sometimes those big solutions require small players like independently-owned small businesses.

Thus has been the story for COVID-19, a pandemic that has provoked national, state, and city-wide shutdowns and mandates, new safety practices and protocols, and, finally, the development and release of new vaccines — all implemented with a hope to stem the spread and effects of the coronavirus.

Now with pharmaceutical giants such as Pfizer and Moderna releasing and distributing vaccines, large healthcare providers and national pharmaceutical chains have been tasked with administering the shots.

As large as these efforts and their players have been, smaller healthcare-related businesses are getting their chance to play a role in the solution as well.

Independent pharmacies hosted vaccination clinic

RX Select CPESN Lead Network Facilitator Kacee Blackwell administers the COVID-19 vaccine at PPOk in Edmond (Photo: Brent Fuchs)

Last week in Edmond, three independent pharmacies — Creative Care Pharmacy and Hospital Discount Pharmacy, both based in Edmond, and Midwest City-based ValuMed Pharmacy — hosted a 4-day vaccination clinic at the PPOk (Pharmacy Providers of Oklahoma, Inc.) location at the corner of Bryant Ave. and Memorial Road.

During this clinic held Feb. 25-28, the three pharmacies administered more than 2,600 vaccines to individuals meeting the Phase 1 and Phase 2 guidelines, according to PPOk spokesperson Meleia Williamson. She explained how recently, the Phase 2 designation was expanded to include grade-school teachers and school support staff as well as people ages 16 and up if they have comorbidities.

These three pharmacies hosting the clinic, she explained, were able to dispense this allotment of the Pfizer-developed vaccine thanks to a newly enacted CDC program. That program works through individual state pharmaceutical networks, called CPESNs, for Clinical Pharmacy Enhanced Services Networks, to distribute the vaccine.

Pharmaceutical network is instrumental

Williamson said these networks are instrumental in some rural areas where independent pharmacies may be the only healthcare providers.

“So (the Federal Pharmacy Partnership Program) really opens up the opportunity really to get into these rural communities to provide this vaccine which we are so ecstatic about. They’re pharmacists. They’re small business owners. It’s getting them this opportunity to get in front of the patients and really help,” she said.

Oklahoma’s own CPESN network is called RX Select, of which Creative Care Pharmacy, Hospital Discount Pharmacy, and Value Med Pharmacy are members.

Helping independent pharmacies serve communities

RX Select Senior Vice President of Pharmacy Services Melanie Maxwell said the network is excited to assist these independent pharmacies in helping their communities.

RX Select Senior Vice President of Pharmacy Services Melanie Maxwell (Photo: Brent Fuchs)

“Pharmacists are the most accessible health care providers in the community. Independent pharmacies develop strong relationships with their patients to help them manage their medications,” she said. “We are thrilled to offer this opportunity for community members to experience the high-level of service that these pharmacies provide.”

Last week’s clinic offered both first and second doses to individuals.

According to Williamson, a second clinic may be scheduled in a few weeks but will likely only serve those seeking the second dose.

“That way we won’t have patients scrambling to find their second shot since we have no immediate plans to host an additional clinic.”

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About Thomas Berger

Thomas Berger is the owner of Ciskus Creative, an Edmond-based creative agency focused on creating marketing content for small and medium-sized businesses.

Prior to starting his own company, he worked as the communications/marketing specialist for an Oklahoma City-based office technology company. Former to coming to the Oklahoma City area, he had worked as a career journalist for more than a decade — initially reporting for several newspapers in western North Carolina and northeastern Oklahoma and later as a multimedia journalist for KJRH Channel 2 in Tulsa.

Thomas has lived in Edmond with his wife Alison since 2013. He has a passion for traveling, photography, learning languages, landscaping and coffee roasting. He holds a Bachelor of Arts in English from Western Carolina University.