Ed Cohen, PharmD, FApha: For our final thoughts, what advice do you have for community clinics, pharmacists and technicians for managing their workflow and demand for this comprehensive immunization service we provide? Maria, I’ll start with you.
Mary Bridgeman, PharmD, BCPS, BCGP: I would be remiss not to point out that vaccination rates for many communicable diseases in various age and demographic groups in the United States remain low. As the most accessible healthcare professionals, we have a duty to protect and support public health and to educate and advocate for our patients to receive indicated vaccines. It is important that we pause and answer our patients’ questions. We need to hear their concerns with compassion and share reliable information so they can make informed health care decisions. That’s the best way to combat hesitation and support the health and well-being of the patients we serve.
I recall the words of former US Surgeon General Jerome Adams, who said, “It’s okay to have questions. What is not okay is to make bad health decisions based on misinformation.” It is our professional duty to share what we know in the interest of public health to combat these false beliefs.
Wesley Nuffer, PharmD, BCPS, CDCES: I agree with what Mary said. To paraphrase another quote, “All it takes for evil to grow is for good people to do nothing.” The same goes for good people. I am also very frustrated at seeing some of the misinformation being put out there. I try not to wade into the pools and get involved, but sometimes we have to remember that it’s our responsibility to make sure accurate information gets out and people don’t just hear this aberrant voice that breaks good communication and puts up barriers. As a society, we struggle with that a lot.
Compassion, doing what you can and finding what motivates and refuels you are important. Because, as we’ve discussed, it’s a very taxing time. Take your time, read a trashy novel or binge your favorite show and recharge your batteries and go fight another day. Because the work we do is extremely important. Ed, you started with how far we’ve come as a profession during this pandemic. People are finally recognizing the critical role that we as pharmacists play in public health. We need to continue and build that momentum. According to Mary, there’s so much more work to do, so let’s get on with it.
Lynette Chastain, PharmD, BCACP, TTS: Staff training [is important]. We were talking about technicians taking on the role of immunization. Many pharmacies have been good at that, but some have not taken advantage of it. Being willing to take the time to train someone else to make your workload a little easier in the end can help us in the end.
Traci Poole, PharmD, BCACP, BCGP: Identify an immunization champion in your location – be it a technician or pharmacist – who keeps the wheels on the bus all the time. Also use technology and automation where possible. Even if it’s a little bit of money, it’s ultimately worth it to give your staff some common sense and take a break from all the tedious stuff that needs to be done. I know pharmacists are tired and technicians exhausted, but it is our duty as professionals to immunize these patients to keep the public safe and sound. As Wes said, whatever you need to do to unplug and take care of yourself to be able to do that [is important]. The last thing is that you have to take care of yourself. We realize that life happens, and you don’t always have to do it with a smile on your face, but it’s our responsibility and we can’t give up. Because this isn’t necessarily over, and the public needs us.
Lynette Chastain, PharmD, BCACP, TTS: Also make sure those immunizing have the information they need. When these new boosters come out, make sure every member of your team is aware and not feeling left out. If a patient comes and tells you they need a booster and you didn’t know it was available, you look a bit silly. If we can, we need to spread that news before our patients come to us with it.
Ed Cohen, PharmD, FApha: I want to take a moment today to thank you all. My panel of distinguished colleagues, thank you for a wonderful discussion. For our viewership, we hope you found this Pharmacy times® webcast to be rich and informative. Thank you all very much.
Transcription edited for clarity.