Best Practices for Health-System Pharmacy During COVID-19 - Episode 13

Practice Pearl 3: Emerging Role of Pharmacists on the Front Line of Vaccine Administration

April 9, 2021

Madeline Camejo, PharmD, and Estela Trimino, PharmD, BCPS, discuss the emerging role of the pharmacist on the front line of vaccine administration.

Madeline Camejo, PharmD, MS: Now that we have been at the front and center of this whole vaccine for COVID-19 and its protocols, the role of pharmacists as a frontline vaccinator and administration has really emerged with this pandemic. The federal government is giving [the vaccine], as a national strategy, to all community pharmacies, to have more access points for the nation. The emerging role of pharmacists is interesting, as you were saying before. People wouldn’t even get vaccines like the shingles or flu [from the pharmacist]. But with this whole frontline spot, what do you think about the pharmacist’s role? You talked about that, Michael, but I want to get it from Esty’s perspective. What do think with the immunization, and what does it take to get a pharmacist to be a certified immunizer?

Estela Trimino, PharmD, BCPS: I’m very similar to Michael. I had to take that APhA [American Pharmacists Association] course many years ago, in 2005. I didn’t have it in pharmacy school. We have through local societies the availability and through colleges the ability to have these courses readily available, to have more immunizers in the community who are pharmacists. It was a course, and there’s a certificate. There’s BLS [Basic Life Support] certification in the state of Florida, and then there’s a continuing education requirement as well.

And there’s an insurance waiver. Insurance needs to include the pharmacist. That should be in our system to perform immunizations. Through all this vaccine process, a pharmacist has a role, especially in the community setting, in the ambulatory care setting. In those types of settings, a pharmacist can provide a bigger role to patients. We can have the availability to vaccinate more patients and the capability of giving access to these patients who may not get them through clinics or hospitals yet. We have that availability to get those vaccines. We have an influence in decreasing the incidence of COVID-19 in our community.

Pharmacists play a key role. I’ve always been an advocate for pharmacists to be in the community doing these types of services. This has provided an opportunity to show what we can do, not only with the COVID-19 vaccine but with the influenza vaccine, with pneumococcal vaccines, and with all the other vaccines that we need for preventive medicine. This has really highlighted it. When our leadership team said, “All hands-on deck for the vaccine process,” I went and they told me, “Just go out there and vaccinate.” I hadn’t done this in many years. But when I went out there, I had that feeling of vaccinating, of having a part in that hope for that patient. If we can have that part in a community setting where we really have an impact with a lot more patients and community, it is very noteworthy. The pharmacy is changing.

Madeline Camejo, PharmD, MS: I’m very proud of our profession and what we’ve been able to contribute to end this pandemic. I want to thank both of you for joining us, and I want to thank our viewing audience. I hope you found Directions in Pharmacy® Practice Pearls to be rich and informative. Thank you for joining us today.

Michael Epshteyn, PharmD, MSM:Thank you, everyone.

Estela Trimino, PharmD, BCPS: Thank you.

Transcript edited for clarity.