SAN ANTONIO — The American Pharmacists Association (APhA) honored the USC School of Pharmacy and City of Los Angeles’ COVID-19 Vaccination Program with its Immunization Champion Award, honorable mention, in the corporation/institution category.
The USC School of Pharmacy began collaborating with the Office of Mayor Eric Garcetti and the City of Los Angeles in September 2020 by providing free flu shots at COVID-19 testing sites across the city. When COVID-19 vaccines became available in December 2020, USC pharmacists took a lead role at California’s first COVID-19 point of dispensing (POD) site, at Lincoln Park, across the street from the USC Health Sciences Campus.
As the city’s COVID-19 vaccination distribution accelerated, USC pharmacists continued leading efforts at high-volume vaccination sites, including the nation’s largest POD at Dodger Stadium, and at USC University Park Campus, Los Angeles Southwest College, Cal State L.A., Los Angeles International Airport, Union Station, and 12 mobile sites at local libraries, churches, parks and schools.
“Pharmacists at the center”
“At the core of the city’s program, the USC School of Pharmacy served as a key partner that placed pharmacists at the center of its operational, logistical and clinical decisions,” said Richard Dang, assistant professor of clinical pharmacy, who accepted the award.
As the program grew, USC pharmacists were added to each new site. They oversaw the dose-preparation process, managed inventory, ensured quality control, provided clinical oversight, and supervised student and volunteer inoculators. Pharmacists also worked with an interdisciplinary team of pharmacy technicians, nurses, physician assistants, EMTs and other health professionals at each site.
Ultimately, more than half of the 1.4 million immunizations administered through the city’s COVID-19 vaccine program were distributed at USC-supported sites.
Improving immunization rates
“As frontline healthcare providers, our USC pharmacists took on the responsibility to improve immunization rates across Los Angeles,” says Vassilios Papadopoulos, dean of the USC School of Pharmacy. “I’m continually impressed by all that our pharmacy teams and community partners have been able to accomplish during the pandemic to take care of our communities and one another.”
Other partners in the unique public-private collaboration include the Los Angeles Fire Department, the nonprofit Community Organized Relief Effort (CORE), Carbon Health and Curative.
The 2022 APhA Immunization Champion Awards were presented Sunday, March 20 at the APhA 2022 Annual Meeting & Exposition in San Antonio.