How small pharmacies are playing a big role in COVID vaccine distribution in rural towns: "It's like the Super Bowl"
"Taking care of patients is the ultimate goal of a community pharmacist," said Steven Hoffart. His career as a pharmacist brought him back home, to Magnolia, Texas, outside Houston, where the population is just over 2,000 people.
He is the owner of the independent Magnolia Pharmacy.
Correspondent Mireya Villarreal asked, "Does it make it extra special knowing that this is where you grew up and you're giving back to your own town?"
"Yes," he replied. "It's real heartfelt."
At the beginning of the pandemic, Hoffart stepped up to make hand sanitizer for those on the frontlines. Now, he's stepping up again, by distributing 500 doses of the Moderna vaccine.
There are about 23,000 independent pharmacies in the U.S., and many are the backbone of their community. Now, they are helping fight COVID misinformation, and administering the vaccine in areas where medical resources and access are often limited.
"We have great relationships with our community," Hoffart said. "So, being able to make sure that we're able to get those patients in on a timely manner, it's a challenge, but it's something we're working through every day."
Texas is currently vaccinating Group 1B, which in this state is residents 65 and older, and people 16 and older with medical conditions that could put them at risk for severe illness with COVID-19.
Jane Bough, who got the vaccine, will be 85 years old next month. "I survived 2020," she said.
Her son is an anesthesiologist. "He said, 'Mom, if you could have been in the emergency room with me or the ICU and seen all the people I have put to sleep paralyzed, intubated, you would run to get this vaccine,'" Baugh said.
Big pharmacy chains like CVS and Walgreens contracted with the federal government to help distribute vaccines, but those chains aren't always in rural communities, leaving independent pharmacies to fill in the gaps, with both access to quality care and factual education on vaccinations.