Optimizing Pharmacy Visits During the COVID-19 Pandemic
As our country continues the battle against COVID-19, quarantine fatigue has been setting in. The reopening of non-essential businesses has begun despite the number of positive cases continuing to climb. Though we now have the option to go to Disney World or to the salon, we still have a moral obligation to protect not only ourselves or our families but also everyone around us. In order to beat this deadly disease, it is crucial to limit our outside ventures to essential activities. With the goal of limiting the spread of COVID-19, taking advantage of services offered by pharmacies can help you make the most of the time spent away from home.
Refilling Your Prescriptions
Minimizing time in the pharmacy starts with thoughtful planning at home being proactive with your medications. Calling in your refills a week early gives the pharmacy staff enough time to address any potential problems such as contacting insurances or doctors and ensure that your prescriptions are ready before you run out. Pharmacies are available by phone and most have websites or smartphone applications that allow you to easily submit refill requests. Additionally, your insurance may support a switch from a 30-day supply to a 90-day supply of medication to reduce the need for monthly refills. These options not only promote social distancing but also guarantee that you won’t be left without your medications.
Curbside, Drive-Through, and Delivery
Most services that exist for your convenience can also keep you safe. Many pharmacies offer drive-thru, curbside, or home delivery services that promote social distancing and keep you safe. As those with milder COVID-19 symptoms are sent home for self-isolation, these methods of prescription services protect other patients and pharmacy staff from potential disease exposure. You can ask your local pharmacies if curbside services can be set up or keep your distance by utilizing the drive-throughs or home deliveries.
Some women may find it challenging to get their birth control prescriptions during this outbreak. As many doctor’s offices shift their focus to COVID-19 care, you may experience difficulties in scheduling appointments for less urgent health needs, or be discouraged from going to the place where you can possibly run into contagious patients. Fortunately, in some states, as long as pharmacies are open, you will always have access to women’s health resources. In these states, pharmacists can provide the pill, patch, vaginal ring, or injection without a doctor’s prescription and often allow walk-ins. This service is a one-stop-shop for birth control and can save you the frustration of finding a doctor’s appointment, a trip to both the doctor’s office, AND stop at the pharmacy. In states where this service is not available yet, patients can take advantage of Telemedicine or online birth control prescription services.
Currently, the CDC recommends that vaccinations should not be delayed due to COVID-19. However, as previously mentioned, it can be difficult to find available doctor’s appointments due to efforts to limit the amount of contact between patients at the offices. Fortunately, pharmacists in some states are trained and can give patients their vaccines. Although we do not yet have a vaccine for COVID-19, it is important to continue to prevent the diseases that we can control and keep patients their healthiest. Pharmacies are a convenient option for those looking to get their vaccines at the same time that they are picking up medications. Importantly, some pharmacies are providing vaccines on a case-by-case basis and are taking extra steps to provide safe administration. It is recommended to talk with your pharmacist prior to going in for a vaccination so they can ensure the vaccine is available and they are able to provide it.
Through the uncertainty of COVID-19, these pharmacy services are healthcare’s secret weapon in maintaining the health of the community now and beyond COVID-19 conditions. It is important to keep in mind the options available for you that will keep both you and the community safe. Remember to plan ahead, take advantage of what your local pharmacy has to offer, and most importantly, wear a mask.
About the Author:
Marjorie Valdez, PharmD, is a recent graduate of UCSD Skaggs School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences in 2020.
Article reviewed by Breanna Failla, PharmD Candidate