Prime pharmacists volunteer in COVID-19 vaccine distribution
Pharmacy benefit manager’s pharmacists are trained, authorized to administer vaccinesMarch 4, 2021
Peter Bryan, PharmD and Rachel Espinosa, PharmD (pictured at right) are volunteering with Minnesota’s Medical Reserves Corps of Ramsey County to administer the vaccine. Being licensed pharmacists, they were both eligible to participate in the administration of COVID-19 vaccines after receiving training – and they knew this was their opportunity to help.
“Being a pharmacist, I was thinking about the logistics as soon as the first vaccines began the approval process,” says Peter. “I knew there would be a need for help in the vaccination efforts.”
Through Ramsey County, volunteer opportunities are available several times each week and each shift ranges from 2-8 hours. The clinics occur on weekdays, evenings and weekends. Pharmacists can fill the role of screener reviewing screening information and providing vaccine education prior to patients receiving their shot or vaccinator. Peter and Rachel will volunteer at least twice per month, or more as needs increase.
“We have to be good stewards of supply,” says Rachel. “We need to safely vaccinate people as fast as possible so we can receive more doses and get more individuals vaccinated.”
Peter and Rachel know the more people they can help vaccinate, the quicker the country can take steps toward a return to pre-pandemic normalcy.
“There are literally tears in people’s eyes as they get the vaccine. It’s like a collective deep exhale,” said Peter. “We’ve been talking about the vaccine for nearly a year now, and we’re finally getting to that point.”
“Everyone had a story of why the vaccine is so important to them. And most of the time it wasn’t solely for their own safety. It was so they can see someone special to them again, or because they have an immunocompromised child,” adds Rachel. “I’m glad we can spread this much hope.”
Peter and Rachel also encourage others to get involved. While licensed pharmacists can get trained to administer vaccines, there are roles for non-pharmacists as well. Other volunteers can help with paperwork, pre-screen patients and monitor post-vaccine for side-effects. Contact your local government agency for further information.
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