Preparing Your Retail Pharmacy for COVID-19 Vaccinations

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The COVID-19 vaccine is reaching the public at a rapid pace, and with a bit of careful planning beforehand, your retail pharmacy can be part of the vaccination effort. A retail pharmacy that can create a smooth distribution experience to their customer will see an increase of new customers that will rely on your retail pharmacy for more than just the vaccine. Now, what can you do to bring the COVID-19 vaccinations to your retail pharmacy? 

Knowledge is everything: 

The first thing that you need to do to bring COVID-19 vaccinations to your retail pharmacy is being aware of all laws that pertain to your retail pharmacy serving as a site of vaccinations. State and Federal laws have many requirements for a pharmacy offering vaccination services. Some of these laws include proper training to pharmacists on how to vaccinate personnel, you also need to show documentation to customers receiving the vaccine, and documentation that the patient already received the vaccine. 

Sourcing the Vaccine:

Before you can distribute the vaccine, your retail pharmacy will need to source it first. Start by doing your research on how your pharmacy can get the vaccine and if you will need to pay for it. Local health departments and the Board of Pharmacy may be able to help financially. Also, you should ensure that the pharmacy staff is aware of the proper storage requirements for the vaccine until it is ready to be administered. You would also need to create test claims at your pharmacy so that you will be aware of the reimbursement of the vaccine, and your pharmacy staff will be able to bill insurances efficiently.

Being Prepared:

Being prepared to administer the COVID-19 vaccine is extremely important; because recent events have shown that both Pfizer and the Moderna COVID-19 vaccines had rare cases of anaphylaxis that occurred after administration. Just recently, the Johnson & Johnson vaccine is put on pause for causing blood clots. To avoid these issues, you want to ensure that your retail pharmacy protocol for patient observation and handling post-vaccination emergencies is up to date. Your staff members should be knowledgeable of the appropriate emergency protocols. If you are administering the COVID-19 vaccine, you want to make sure that you have Epipen and diphenhydramine readily available. You also want to have a comfortable seated area for patients during the observation period after receiving the vaccine. 

Other Vaccines: 

Before administering the COVID-19 vaccine series, consider evaluating the patient’s vaccine history. Let them know which vaccine they are eligible for and, let them know that they cannot take any other type of vaccine within 14 days of receiving the COVID-19 vaccine series. 

Documenting receipts of the vaccine: 

There are state laws that determine if vaccine administration needs to be reported to a specific system. If your state does not mandate reporting to a specific system, you must maintain a record of the vaccine administrations. Besides the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, Moderna and Pfizer require a two-dose series. Only administer the first vaccine if your retail pharmacy can get the second dose for your patient. Both vaccines need to be from the same manufacturer, and each manufacturer has specific instructions on when to administer the second dose. 

A retail pharmacy is one of the easiest and most accessible ways to get in touch with a healthcare professional. This pandemic has caused such a shift in medical care and how you provide your services to your patients. Your retail pharmacy can use this time to position itself as a health hub and an immediate source of accessible basic medical care. By offering the COVID-19 vaccine to your retail pharmacy, not only will you increase an influx of new customers, but you will be part of the impact on your patient’s health. 

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