How To Start A Vaccine Program In Your Pharmacy

how to start a vaccine program in your pharmacy
how to start a vaccine program in your pharmacy

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Are you finally thinking of starting a vaccine program in your independent pharmacy?

Adding vaccine administration to your list of pharmacy services is a great way to serve and protect your community while increasing your pharmacy’s visibility, revenue, and profit. Let’s dive into how to start your pharmacy’s vaccine program.

Most pharmacies can get a vaccine program up and running with just a little effort and time. Even if you are administering vaccines already, I have stuffed this blog with tons of valuable information for the newbies and the seasoned pharmacy owners.

Benefits of Adding Immunizations to Your Pharmacy

It will certainly take some effort to get your vaccine program up and running smoothly, but I guarantee it will be worth it. Below are just a few extra benefits of adding vaccine services to your pharmacy:

Helps protect your community and prevent disease

Vaccines are a cornerstone of preventive healthcare. By offering a comprehensive vaccine program, you can significantly contribute to the health and well-being of your community. Vaccinated individuals are less likely to contract and spread infectious diseases, leading to healthier community outcomes and fewer outbreaks. Whether you are vaccinating a new grandpa or someone traveling the world, this is a vital service your community needs.

Additional revenue

  •  Vaccinations can be a profitable service. While the profit margins on dispensing prescriptions might be low, vaccines can provide a higher return on investment, especially when done correctly.
  • Utilizing Group Purchasing Organizations (GPOs) like Vaccine Connect can help you obtain vaccines at the best possible prices, further increasing profitability.

Increases your professional services offerings

  • By providing a full line of vaccines, your pharmacy becomes a one-stop shop for healthcare services, enhancing your reputation as a comprehensive healthcare provider.

Raises awareness of your pharmacy

  • Offering vaccinations can drive traffic into your pharmacy, creating upselling and prescription transfer opportunities. This increased foot traffic presents opportunities to convert these individuals into regular customers and promote other wellness services you offer.

Prepare Your Pharmacy for Administering Vaccines

If you are not yet offering immunizations, it’s essential to do some prep work before marketing your new vaccine program. If you are an experienced immunizer, then you can easily skip ahead.

You will need to make a couple of lists.

1. Supplies List

First, make a list of all the supplies you will need. Walk through the process you want your patients to follow in your pharmacy. Take note of everything you will need. Many items can be purchased from a local store or your main wholesaler. Health Care Logistics is another great resource for items. Here are some common items:

     – Clipboards

     – Pens (get custom ones HERE)

     – Extra cleaning supplies

     – Large needle disposal

     – An emergency kit with epinephrine auto-injectors

     – Alcohol swabs

     – Gloves and additional PPE

     – Optional: online appointment booking

     – VIS sheets from HERE

2. Employee Training List

Next, make a list for training your employees. Training can mean everything from how they ask a patient if they want a vaccine to which paperwork they need to give to the patient to getting employees certified to administer vaccines. Ensure you follow your state rules and OSHA guidelines. Here are a few common training points:

     – OSHA bloodborne pathogen training (more details below)

     – Needlestick protocol

     – Emergency situation drill

     – Fainting protocol

– Vaccine certification and training through NPTA

3. Pharmacy Changes List

Lastly, create a list of things to change in the pharmacy. You might need to add chairs for post-vaccine observation or add a table where you will administer the vaccines. Here are some topics to ponder:

     – Will you need to extend your hours?

     – Do you need new signage or directional signage?

     – Will you need additional tables and chairs?

     – Who will be the assigned immunization services expert (besides you)?

Make sure your staff is on the same page as you and understands your short—and long-term goals. Practice with your team to get them comfortable asking patients to transfer their medications to your pharmacy. When the patient is waiting after their shot, this is a perfect time for your staff to offer complimentary OTCs or supplements. These patients may be interested in vitamins, hand sanitizers, or other items.

Ordering Vaccines

You will need to decide which vaccines you will offer and then order them. For flu, it is good to have a variety ordered. The flu supply chain can get messed up at the last minute. Order a variety of manufacturers and dosing types (MDV or PFS). The profit on vaccines is made when you purchase. If you purchase well, you will be successful.

– I highly recommend you join the Vaccine Connect buying group for all your vaccine needs. You will be amazed at how much you can save through Amanda and her wonderful team. The best part is, it’s FREE!

OSHA Regulations

It’s vital that if you plan to perform a service with needles, you and your staff take the bloodborne pathogens training provided by OSHA. This training is a must for everyone who will be administering the vaccine. I prefer to get all of my employees trained, even if their job titles wouldn’t necessarily expose them. I would rather have everyone covered, and it makes tracking easier.

OSHA’s website includes PowerPoint slides and other helpful handouts to review with your team for training. Afterward, don’t forget to print a document stating you (and everyone in training) attended Bloodborne Pathogen training, sign, and date it. The training documentation doesn’t have to be formal, as long as it states which employee completed the training and the date. Be sure to put a copy in each employee’s file and keep extra copies in the pharmacy’s records, too.

I have made it easy for you to get all this training is a single download. Go HERE and complete the form and get everything you need for OSHA training.

Vaccines Best Practices

The Immunization Action Coalition website is about to become your best friend. You can download vaccine information statements, pre-screening questionnaires, and more—all for free! This website will help you through the entire vaccine process. They also have great information on travel vaccines and immunizations, which can be another great avenue to check out. As travel starts to pick back up, we’ll likely see the need for more travel immunizations.

Signed Immunization Protocol

In some states, like Texas, you may need a local doctor to sign a protocol for you to administer vaccines. You can also work with companies like Prescribe Wellness, which will provide signed protocols for a small fee. This can be easier for a busy pharmacy owner in some cases. Many states have expanded pharmacists’ scope of practice to include many or all vaccines. Be sure to check with your state to follow the proper guidelines.

Marketing Your Vaccine Program

Immunizations are the perfect reason to try new pharmacy marketing techniques and get out of your marketing comfort zone. When you’re getting started with your new vaccine service, be sure to share a ton of educational information on vaccines. Don’t forget to include strategies for your existing patients, too!

1. Social Media Campaigns
  • Utilize social media platforms like Facebook, X, LinkedIn, and Instagram to announce your vaccine services. Post updates regularly, share educational content about the importance of vaccines, and engage with your audience.
  • Create eye-catching graphics and videos to increase engagement.
  • Tell patients what to expect. Do they need to make an appointment, or can they just walk in? How long will it take? Do they need a doctor’s prescription? Answering these questions upfront will make your pharmacy the popular choice.

2. Email Marketing

  • Send regular digital newsletters to your patient base informing them about vaccine availability. Include information on the types of vaccines offered, the benefits of getting vaccinated, how to schedule an appointment, and who needs which vaccine.
  • Personalize your emails to make them more engaging. Use patient segmentation to target specific groups, such as seniors for flu vaccines or parents for childhood immunizations.

3. Local Partnerships

Collaborate with local non-vaccinating healthcare providers to refer their patients to your pharmacy for vaccinations. This can include dentists, chiropractors, physical therapists, and others. Ask if you can give them flyers or bagstuffers to make it easy for the referral.

Partner with community organizations such as churches or non-profits, schools, and local businesses to promote your vaccine services. Offer to hold informational sessions or vaccine clinics at these locations.   Pay attention to any upcoming health fairs and consider sponsoring or having a booth there.

4. Traditional Media

Don’t leave out traditional media! While social media gets a lot of attention, local newspapers, radio, and TV stations are still a fantastic way to promote your vaccine program. These media outlets are often looking for local experts on health-related topics. Offer to provide educational content in exchange for being mentioned. Press releases and interviews can help spread the word to a broader audience.

Additional Support

If you are a Pharmacy Badass University member, remember to submit your custom graphic design requests to the team. We can help you make flyers or social media posts to promote your vaccine services. Join our free private Facebook group for daily tips on pharmacy ownership. We are always ready to help you improve your pharmacy’s profitability.

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    About DiversifyRx

    DiversifyRx is dedicated to helping pharmacy owners kick ass and create profitable, thriving pharmacies. We strongly believe the key to success is diversifying your revenue streams and maximizing each opportunity that is right for you. DiversifyRx was created by a pharmacy owner for pharmacy owners. We offer tons of free information and our Pharmacy Badass University membership. This site contains affiliate links to products or services. We may receive a commission for purchases made through these links.

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