COVID-19 Vaccination Clinics: Members' Insights from Week One

Regulation | December 28, 2020 | by Jill Schumann

On the December 28, 2020 LeadingAge Coronavirus Update Call, several members shared their experiences with some of the first vaccination clinics in the country.

On the December 28, 2020 LeadingAge Coronavirus Update Call, several members shared their experiences with some of the first vaccination clinics in the country.

(Listen to the interview here.)

Participating were:

  • Mary Lynn Spalding, President and CEO, Christian Care Communities, KY – 9 communities with various levels of care: IL, AL, LTC, SNF (partner CVS)
  • Vassar Byrd, CEO, Rose Villa Senior Living, Portland, OR – Life Plan Community, nursing home with Medicaid but not Medicare license, onsite homecare (partner CVS)
  • Sue Dionne Jones, Director of Nursing, The Cedars in Portland, Portland, ME – IL, AL, LTC and SNF (partner Walgreens)
  • Julia Kyle, Director of Pharmacy Services, Motion Picture and Television Fund, Wasserman Campus, Los Angeles, CA – IL, AL, Nursing (working individually with Walgreens as LA County is not participating with Pharmacy Partnership)

Their individual insights are summarized here in no particular order of person:

Perspectives on early contacts with pharmacy partners: Mixed experiences.

  • Communication was chaotic with CVS as there were conversations with multiple people at CVS who were not aware of each other’s conversations.
  • Their regular Omnicare pharmacist helped to run interference.
  • After contact from national, Walgreens assigned a single local contact and that worked pretty smoothly.
  • Communication was a problem when LA County moved away from the Pharmacy Partnership as that did not get clearly communicated to pharmacy partners.

Insights about the consent process: Consent takes more time than you think it will and it’s a good idea to combine the consent process with education.

  • CVS consent form is extensive. Get and document verbal consents from POAs as needed. Survey staff ahead to see who is actually going to take the vaccine in Clinic 1 and who needs more information.
  • Time spent educating and communicating with staff and residents was well-spent. They sent out emails to families with consent forms and CDC information; had a zoom meeting with families to educate and to answer questions. The medical director was part of the meeting and families were invited to call or email with additional questions and to return the forms by fax, email, scan, or drop-off.
  • Their internal tech team made the consent a fillable form and the organization downloaded as much information as they could (demographics, insurance) before distributing to gather the rest. They then made one on one calls or visits to residents and families.
  • Another created their own FAQ document, sent emails and made visits and phone calls to get the consents.
  • There were significant glitches with uploading the forms and with the pharmacists having copies of the forms when they arrived onsite. Have duplicates.

Perspectives on the clinic day: Clinics are as unique as providers but there are many common threads. Most residents want the vaccine and at least half the staff do – in one case 70% of staff.

  • Allow time for the pharmacists to prepare and set up, as you plan the schedule. Also, in one case the pharmacists only drew up 10 injections at a time, so there was a pause between each set of ten. However, everyone seemed patient with the wait.
  • One organization arranged to have nursing home residents get vaccinated first, another chose to have night shift staff members get vaccinated first.
  • It was helpful to have the paperwork organized so that a staff person could accompany the pharmacists who went from resident room to resident room. And, helpful to have employees in alphabetical order to retrieve documentation easily.
  • One organization implemented a “fast pass” system so that people who needed to get in and out quickly to get back on the floor could go to the front of the line.
  • Joy and celebration! All of the panelists reported that staff and residents were excited about this historic event. When the pharmacists rolled their cart into the staff room, the staff cheered and applauded, and the pharmacists felt appreciated. The event was a morale booster and an important one to document and share.
  • Once things were up and running the vaccinations went smoothly.
  • In one case 72% of staff took the vaccine, in two others 50+% of staff took the vaccine and there was general agreement that more are likely to get vaccinated at the second clinic. 95+% of residents chose to be vaccinated.
  • The organization not able to participate in the Pharmacy Partnership has been rolling out more slowly and has implemented an email system for appointment times.

Experiences with side effects: Range from none to very minor; almost no call outs the next day.

  • Everyone arranged for people who were vaccinated to be observed for 15 minutes in direct sight line of the observers. They had Epi-pens, Benadryl, etc. available, but no such adverse reactions occurred. In one case they provided a timer to each individual so they could track the 15 minutes, then clean the timers and reuse them.
  • The most common side effect was arm soreness, but that was manageable. In one case several residents had very low- grade fevers, and in another, several staff members had headaches and didn’t feel well.
  • In three cases there were no call-offs the next day, and in one case two staff members called off for one day.

General advice:

  • It is your clinic, not that of the pharmacy partner, so take charge of the logistics through good planning to make it run smoothly.
  • It is important to track the lot numbers of the vaccines in case of adverse reactions.
  • Arrange to feed the pharmacy partners.
  • Have a copier nearby in case you need to duplicate cards, paperwork, etc.
  • Overall – very positive experience even in the first week of clinics! As one panelist said, “we are making history.”