How Pharmacies Can Facilitate the Second Dose Administration of the COVID-19 Vaccines

Pharmacy Times® interviewed John Beckner, the senior director of strategic initiatives at the National Community Pharmacists Association, on how pharmacists can help people come back for the second dose of the COVID-19 vaccine.

Pharmacy Times® interviewed John Beckner, the senior director of strategic initiatives at the National Community Pharmacists Association (NCPA), on how pharmacists can help people come back for the second dose of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) vaccine and soothe public concerns regarding the safety of the vaccines.

Alana Hippensteele: So, you mentioned the second dose administration. How can pharmacists help facilitate people coming back for that second dose?

John Beckner: Well, obviously, the second dose is going to be critical. You know, pharmacists have been doing or providing immunizations for a number of years and are really used to providing or administering vaccines that are given in a series—sometimes a 2-dose series, sometimes a 3-dose series. So, understanding the importance of completing the series is something that pharmacists understand and have been used to dealing with for a while, which is even more important with the COVID-19 vaccine.

So, there are a few tools to help them encourage patients to get back in for that second dose. I know there are a number of scheduling platforms that have been developed. Some new texting technology that's available through the CDC is a tool to remind folks to get back in for that second dose. Certainly, just from a manual standpoint, there are appointment cards that are available that remind patients of the need to come back in for that second dose, and actually what date or range of dates they need to come back in for that second dose, you know, having the pharmacist use the pharmacy management computer system to generate an appointment for the patient to come back. So, I think there are a number of things to encourage that and having the patient schedule for that next appointment before they actually leave the store after the first dose is probably a good way to do that.

Alana Hippensteele: Right. What can pharmacists do to soothe public concerns around the safety of the COVID-19 vaccines and the safety of coming to the pharmacy for vaccinations?

John Beckner: Well, you know, this is one of things we've talked about at NCPA on a number of recent webinars. I think everyone agrees that one of the most important things that pharmacists can do is convey a sense of safety to their patients—safety in terms of the vaccine being safe, but also safety in terms of it being safe to come to the pharmacy to receive the vaccine. I think the relationships that these pharmacists enjoy with their patients in the communities that they serve will go a long way toward helping the pharmacist encourage their patients to get vaccinated. if they trust the pharmacist, if they feel that the pharmacist has their health and best interest at heart, I think these patients are going to be more inclined to come in and be vaccinated. But you know, continual reinforcement of that, even though the vaccine may not be universally available currently at these community pharmacies into the patient population as a whole. It's certainly not too early to be having those conversations with patients about the importance of the vaccine, and it's really the best way to prevent contracting the virus.

Alana Hippensteele: Right. Do you have any closing thoughts on the work pharmacies will be doing in the months ahead in order to vaccinate and protect the public from COVID-19?

John Beckner: Well again, I think most community pharmacists have been chomping at the at the bit since it became apparent that a vaccine was going to be available toward the end of this year and the beginning of next year. I think community pharmacists are really uniquely positioned to play a critical role in the country's vaccination efforts, and i think, as time goes on, people will begin to understand that the vaccine is safe, it's very effective at upwards of 95%. And you know, hopefully by the end of the first quarter or beginning of the second quarter, we will be well on the way to getting the pandemic under control, and I think again pharmacists are going to play a key role here, and we're excited about being part of the solution to a very, very serious health problem.

Alana Hippensteele: Yeah, absolutely. Thank you so much for taking the time to speak with me today, John. Now let’s hear from some of our other MJH Life Sciences brands on their latest headlines.