Pharmacists Hold Key to Success of COVID-19 Booster Shot Program

This week’s recommendation by the Biden administration for booster shots to combat COVID-19 is a call to action for pharmacists to get ready for the upcoming flurry of activity.

This week’s recommendation by the Biden administration for booster shots to combat COVID-19 follows an earlier recommendation of a third shot for the immunocompromised and is a call to action for pharmacists to get ready for the upcoming flurry of activity.

Keep these organizations in your back pocket

The FDA and the CDC are both great go-to sources for what is actually happening health-wise, especially in terms of COVID-19 developments. Similarly, the National Community Pharmacists Association and the American Pharmacists Association are excellent sources for pharmacist-specific news. At the same time, keep an eye on the general news because this is what your customers are watching or reading.

For example, a British study reported that the COVID-19 vaccine efficacy weakens in 3 months under Delta. For people without a health care background, this news could serve as a signal to jump ahead and try to get their booster shots.

Anthony Fauci, MD, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, has done associated media appearances recommending that 8 months after the second short is the proper time to get a booster to augment coverage. You can reference Fauci’s comments while explaining the complexities of immune response to your customers, as well as how the general media may unintentionally generalize situations (for those who are especially eager).

Get your offerings in order

We know that as pharmacists, we are among the most trusted health care providers. This is the time to think about how to market your services to your customer base so they know that you are an option for these services.

Letting your customers know how they should plan for a booster shot is a good starting point. You should also be prepared for questions such as timing, whether they need to stick with the same vaccine, and any known adverse effects to keep the important flow of communication going.

This is also the time to check on your stock of vaccine doses, testing supplies, and personal protective equipment. The amounts you used in the spring with an eye toward expanded volume of immunizations of both flu and COVID-19 vaccines should provide a good indication of what you may need in the coming weeks.

What’s your system?

Given the different levels of reporting required with COVID-19 and the flu, this is an excellent opportunity to make sure your scheduling and tracking systems are doing what you need them to do. Expect your COVID-19 vaccine scheduling solution to accommodate multiple doses.

Perhaps we will see a smaller dose for younger patients or potentially a booster dose that varies from the original dosing at the same time you continue to give first and second shots to patients just getting immunized. Things may become more complex to manage, especially when this all coincides with a booster dose for certain immunocompromised people.

How you track each appointment will play into how you later report the activity. Also, can your system work well for you and the community? Expect groups to want to schedule booster shots in tandem, so look to ensure that you have a system that can handle this. 

Throughout the COVID-19 crisis, pharmacists have been the shining stars in keeping communities informed and healthy. This next phase is an excellent chance to cement that relationship with your patients and your community. 

About the Author

Paige Clark, RPh, is the VP of Pharmacy Programs and Policy at Prescryptive, overseeing the company’s policy work to drive awareness, utilization, and scope of trusted independent pharmacists nationally. Prior to Prescryptive, Paige spent 11 years at Oregon State University's College of Pharmacy, driving policy initiatives for the state’s licensed pharmacists, including the prescribing of birth control and tobacco cessation services. Paige also worked as the Staff Pharmacist Consultant for the Oregon Board of Pharmacy, managing rule writing, legislative endeavors, and regional and national policy work. She is a frequent speaker and presenter at national industry conferences and a multi-award winner, including several Pharmacist of the Year recognitions.

References

Biden Announces COVID Vaccine Booster Shots for All Americans | Voice of America - English (voanews.com)

British study shows COVID-19 vaccine efficacy wanes under Delta (msn.com)

COVID-19 booster shots, hospitals being overrun addressed by Dr. Anthony Fauci (msnbc.com)

As variants swirl, document what you do and why you do it | NCPA