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Latest news and updates about the Medicare and pharmacy industries.

Considerations for Expanding Vaccination Services

Posted on August 19, 2020 by Amplicare Team

The spread of the COVID-19 virus this year has put a brighter spotlight than usual on the need for vaccinations. Studies show that every year, vaccines help prevent an estimated 2.5 million deaths around the world. They also remain one of the most cost-effective ways to prevent the spread of infectious diseases such as measles, pneumonia, and influenza. 

The benefit of authorizing pharmacists to administer vaccines has long been proven. As the most accessible healthcare providers, pharmacists who provide vaccinations can help ensure a larger number of people have access to preventive medications. In addition to administering vaccines, they also provide education and clinical guidance on their benefits, particularly to people who may be hesitant. This role is especially important considering the continuing spread of the novel coronavirus and the recent reduction in routine immunizations due to lockdown measures.

In light of this, the International Federation of Pharmacists (FIP) recently published a guide for pharmacies interested in providing vaccination services for their communities. If you are looking to start a vaccination service at your pharmacy — or expand upon what you already have — here are four things to consider, culled from the FIP’s guidelines:

1. Local and state regulations

Before introducing a vaccination service at the pharmacy, determine the health priorities of your given area. This will help ensure it meets the needs of the community in which you’re located. In addition, review local and state regulations to understand what, if any, restrictions may exist around the specific type of vaccine to be offered. In the U.S, for instance, pharmacists are authorized to administer vaccinations such as the flu shot in all 50 states; however, there are limitations for certain vaccines worth noting. 

2. Training

Patients trust pharmacies for guidance so proper training and knowledge of the benefits of the type of vaccination is important for building confidence. From a workflow perspective, it’s also necessary that any staff involved in the service are well-versed in areas such as how to correctly administer vaccines, safety procedures, proper vaccine storage, and emergency protocols, among others. The FIP recommends checking training requirements for different staff as these may vary depending on role.  

3. Pharmacy Logistics

Another consideration for an effective vaccination service is an adequate workspace to safely administer vaccines. For pharmacists or pharmacy owners setting up a new service, the FIP’s guidelines suggest having a private or semi-private consultation area large enough to accommodate patients, staff, and any equipment needed. It should also have good ventilation, lighting, and hand washing facilities. With COVID-19 infections an ongoing concern this year, the CDC also has additional considerations for pharmacy operations — including immunizations — to help protect staff and patients. 

4. Costs and reimbursements

Providing vaccinations at the pharmacy comes with a number of associated costs. In addition to the staff overhead, you also need to take into account the cost of ordering vaccines, replenishing supplies such as syringes, and developing secure and adherent vaccine storage systems. On the other side of the coin, check to see if you can be reimbursed for the service you offer. Some programs, such as Medicare Part B, compensate pharmacies for immunization services and covers the costs for beneficiaries as well. 

When providing a service to the community, spreading the word about it is a significant part of ensuring that it actually serves the function for which it was intended. Sending out communications to your patients, updating IVR messages, or providing fliers are good ways to let people know about the service you offer. Amplicare enables you to schedule phone and text messages to targeted groups of patients to help you spread the word. If your pharmacy offers flu vaccinations, the platform also helps you identify which patients are yet to get a flu shot so you can ensure you’re reaching patients with messages relevant to them.

The FIP’s full guide is available for free here. If you’d like to learn more about how Amplicare can help you improve the effectiveness of your vaccination service, don’t hesitate to reach out.

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