Hospitals across the country received their initial allotments of the FDA-approved Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine last week.
For weeks, hospitals and healthcare workers have been preparing tirelessly for this moment. Those preparations included acquiring adequate freezer space, devising a prioritization plan for vaccinating employees, and training staff to administer the shots. CompleteRx has supported pharmacy and nursing staff with in-service training on storing, preparing and administering the vaccine, as well as preparing for potential severe reactions and the importance of documentation.
“Everyone is very excited to finally have this vaccine. There’s a general sense of relief that we can see the light at the end of the tunnel and begin to return to a level of normalcy once the vaccine reaches the masses,” says Barbara Fingar, CompleteRx director of training and development.
Initial doses of the vaccine are being administered to those who spend their days and nights performing some of the riskiest jobs – working with and near patients who have come to the hospital with coronavirus.
Pharmacists instrumental in expanding access to vaccine
As COVID-19 unfolded, pharmacists have played a crucial part in responding to the pandemic. Last spring, the federal government authorized U.S. pharmacies to order and administer COVID-19 tests. With the availability of a vaccine, pharmacists and pharmacy technicians will play an even larger role in delivering patient care services.
“COVID-19 has accelerated the expansion of our role into immunization services and preventive healthcare and I hope it continues beyond the pandemic,” says Fingar.
Since March, the pandemic has tested healthcare teams in unprecedented ways. And though frontline healthcare workers will still face challenges in the coming months, the vaccine represents a major step forward in the ability to protect their communities, their patients and themselves against the virus.
“Health systems have been taxed to the max caring for COVID-19 patients these past several months,” adds Fingar. “I’m really proud of our pharmacists’ professional commitment during the pandemic. They’ve stayed vigilant about COVID-19 safety because it’s so important for them to be at work, to ensure they’ve got enough staff, equipment and medications to treat patients.”
Hope is on the horizon
With Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine now in use and others on the horizon, we look forward to a brighter year ahead. CompleteRx applauds pharmacy professionals and the broader healthcare community for their commitment to patient care during the pandemic.
“This is a historic moment and clearly shows that pharmacists and pharmacy technicians play an integral part in healthcare,” says Rick Burnett, CompleteRx chief operating officer. “I commend all of our dedicated staff for their efforts in preparing for this moment and for their unwavering dedication to patient care during the pandemic. The distribution of a vaccine represents much needed hope for our nation and the world. I’m so proud of our team as we’ve come together to answer the call.”
Though the country has entered a new and hopeful phase of combatting the virus with the availability of a vaccine, it is critical that everyone continues practicing COVID-safe behaviors. Masking, physical distancing, frequent hand washing and other precautions continue to be critical tools in preventing transmission until a large percentage of the population is vaccinated and data shows that the vaccines provide long-term protection.