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The Role of Pharmacists in COVID-19 Vaccinations

Last updated Jul 19, 2022 | COVID-19, Pharmacy Management, Pharmacy Technology

For the past year, the role of pharmacists in covid-19 vaccinations has been crucial as they worked on the frontline of pandemic response and prevention. Today, as COVID-19 testing continues and vaccinations increase daily, they play a pivotal role in our country’s recovery.

COVID-19 Vaccinations Today

On December 11, 2020, the FDA issued its first-ever emergency use authorization (EUA) for a COVID-19 vaccine created by a biotech company, Pfizer. One week later, the FDA issued a EUA for a second vaccine by Moderna. The first doses of both vaccines were administered within days of authorization. 

On February 27, 2021, authorization was granted for a single-dose vaccine by Johnson & Johnson, which began to be shipped and administered in early March.

Pharmacists and COVID-19 Vaccinations 

With three approved COVID-19 vaccines now circulating, the question of how pharmacies and the role of pharmacists in covid-19 vaccinations are best positioned to distribute pandemic care remains. The simple answer is that the country now needs pharmacists more than ever and in greater numbers.

The Biden Administration’s Federal Retail Pharmacy Program, launched in early February, was created to ensure that eligible citizens could receive a vaccination through their local pharmacy. The program’s goal is to supply a percentage of available vaccines at no cost to national, retail, and independent pharmacies nationwide for distribution. 

As of mid-February, the Biden Administration has been shipping 13.5 million vaccine doses per week to pharmacies around the country. 

This vaccine supply hike has also led to an increased demand for pharmacists and pharmacy staff. According to the New York Times, drugstore chains Rite Aid, Walgreens, and CVS Pharmacy are hiring thousands of additional pharmacists and pharmacy technicians. Stores are offering signing bonuses and temporary part-time shifts to current, retired, and recently graduated pharmacists and technicians.

Health systems are also relying on the pharmacy workforce to manage and administer vaccinations. A survey by the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists (ASHP) found that 88% of health-system pharmacists and pharmacy staff manage vaccine storage and handling. Nearly 40% of respondents reported that vaccine administration makes up a majority of their current role.

Supporting Pharmacists With Digital Tools

As the role of pharmacists in COVID-19 vaccination administration becomes increasingly critical, so does the need to leverage the right tools for your pharmacy. Here are a few digital tools that can help support your staff as you develop your own vaccination program. 

Interactive Voice Response (IVR)

More vaccines and vaccination availability mean more patient inquiries and inbound calls. Pharmacy IVRs simplify call volume management, helping you filter and direct incoming phone calls so your staff can focus on providing quality patient care. 

Streamline communication

Reduce the time you spend on the phone by automatically directing patient queries to the proper channel so they can get the information they need. You can also filter COVID-19 vaccination-specific questions and concerns, seamlessly pointing them to the next step.

Minimize staff pickups

With customizable messaging and user-friendly recording options, you can easily add or adjust pre-recorded phone greetings. Limit staff interruptions and maximize productivity by letting patients know exactly how you are handling vaccination scheduling and waitlist sign-ups.

Manage non-COVID business

While many new queries may be related to the COVID-19 vaccine or testing, you still have regular patients with prescriptions and OTC needs who need service. IVR self-service and after-hours capabilities help you accept and process refill requests, orders, and authorizations without missing a beat. 

Branded Health-site and Waitlist

With so many patients looking to connect with healthcare providers online, your staff may be overrun with requests for online information and solutions. Digital Pharmacist’s branded health sites provide a secure, digital space for you to share important updates and offer pharmacy services, like COVID-19 vaccination waitlists, online.

Build vaccination patient databases

Our COVID-19 vaccination opt-in form collects information from patients who want to schedule an appointment so you can contact them later. An easy way to save your staff more time is by sending patients who call or message the pharmacy to the online form and pre-recording instructions on your IVR system.

Qualify patients instantly 

You won’t have to worry about sorting through lists for eligible patients. Our feature automatically sorts waitlist patients into CDC-compliant vaccination phases, making communication and scheduling simple. 

Keep patient data organized

Instead of searching through records for patient names, our waitlist feature allows you to download vaccination phase groups as a CSV file for easy access. Share lists with your pharmacists on staff or other locations, or use the data to send bulk messages and notifications.

Vaccination Scheduler (Available beginning April 2021)

Next month, Digital Pharmacist will be launching a new feature of the Patient Engagement Platform. The Vaccination Scheduler will help pharmacy teams turn vaccination waitlists into appointments, send reminders, and facilitate hands-free check-in from a single platform.

Send secure direct messages

Our data-encrypted platform keeps communication secure and HIPAA-compliant. And with bulk and targeted two-way messaging capabilities, you can send mass scheduling notifications, start individual conversations, and answer healthcare questions. 

Automate reminders and check-ins

Offer your patients a fast, efficient vaccination experience with automated appointment reminders and notifications. You can select from a range of pre-populated messaging templates or create your own. And with the ability to check in straight from their phones, no one will have to leave the car.

Customize your vaccination calendar

Whether you’re coordinating with multiple locations or working around staff availability, our Vaccination Scheduler allows you to customize your clinical calendar. Choose your own date ranges, appointment lengths, and the number of appointments per day, and keep track of cancellations and no-shows.

To learn more about Digital Pharmacist’s digital engagement and The Role of Pharmacists in COVID-19 Vaccinations, and program support tools, request your free software demo today.

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