Best Practices for Health-System Pharmacy During COVID-19 - Episode 11

Practice Pearl 3: Steps to Prevent Vaccine Dose Waste & the Education of Medical Staff

April 9, 2021

The experts discuss measures taken by pharmacy to prevent waste of vaccine doses and the education provided to members of the medical staff.

Madeline Camejo, PharmD, MS: Esty, you worked one of our big pods which was the Hilton. What were some of the measures taken by the pharmacy team to make sure we prevented vaccines from going to waste?

Estela Trimino, PharmD, BCPS: We worked hard and diligently with our leaders who were scheduling these appointments to make sure we had enough vaccines for those. We weren’t going to waste any. We didn’t want to waste any, so we really looked at those numbers. We made sure when we were getting close to the end of the day, our days would be sometimes 7 AM to 7 PM on those big-number days when we had 600, 700 vaccines administered. We were down to those last 2 vials to make sure we were using those vials appropriately. If we weren’t, we wouldn’t open a vial. We tried to conserve and not waste anything. To my knowledge, our system didn’t waste any vaccines in any of our pods. Our leadership team was diligently working with all the other pods, with employee health and all the other teams, to be sure we were all educated on the same form of how we were giving these vaccines, how we were administering them, and how many people were receiving them. Some days we had a little more than a little less, but we would have enough for those vaccines and not waste.

Madeline Camejo, PharmD, MS: One of the questions I just thought of is when we were getting the vaccines—I know it was the most exciting thing, I’ll never forget it too, Michael—how was it that once you got the vaccine you were ready to create your pods? What education did you provide your members and medical staff on the importance of getting the vaccine? There were a lot of people who weren’t sure. They were scared because they thought the vaccine was done too rapidly. How were you able to educate the medical staff and the health care workers of the importance of getting the vaccine?

Michael Epshteyn, PharmD, MSM:Our organization partnered with human resources and employee health departments. We were able to obtain all the approved emergency use authorization literature that came with the vaccine. They’ve done a great job distributing that information, and we always had a pharmacist available [for questions]. We have offered training for nurses and other folks who helped with the logistics at the vaccine clinics, so they were well educated and informed. We were very transparent; that’s always the best policy. We always said that these are the possible adverse effects, but we also said that that the benefits of getting a vaccine certainly outweigh the risks of adverse effects. Having minor symptoms as an adverse effect of getting a vaccine is nothing compared with getting full-blown COVID-19. Health care workers had a firsthand account and could observe patients dying in ICU [intensive care unit] from COVID-19. Sadly, COVID-19 doesn’t discriminate—all ages, genders, cultural backgrounds, and nationalities. We used that information too—without specifics—about the increase in hospitalization and death due to COVID-19 to persuade folks to think about vaccination. That’s really the only way to prevent the disease and to have enough of the population vaccinated, to hopefully eradicate the disease. That’s why I’m excited about this year. I’m hoping to see COVID-19 rapidly decline and be minimized.

Transcript edited for clarity.