All hands on deck!! The pharmacy immunization tsunami of flu and COVID 3rd shots is almost upon us.
Is your pharmacy ready?
Are you finally thinking of adding vaccination services to your repertoire?
Adding vaccine administration to your list of pharmacy services is a great way to serve and protect your community while increasing your profitability. Pharmacy immunizations were a recent hot topic during our private Pharmacy Profit Summit Attendee Facebook Group office hours session. Many pharmacy owners expressed their desire to finally start offering vaccinations, while others needed tips and best practices to help improve the patient experience and workflow. It was a lively discussion with tons of valuable information, so I summarized the call for all pharmacy owners. Please continue reading for more info on what it takes to start immunization services, how to prepare, where to order supplies, and how to market your vaccination services.
Benefits of Adding Immunizations to Your Pharmacy
It will certainly take some effort to get your vaccination services up and running smoothly, and I guaranty it will also be worth it. Below are just a few extra benefits of adding vaccines services to your pharmacy.
- Helps protect your community and prevent disease
- Additional revenue
- Increases your professional services offerings
- Raises awareness of your pharmacy (especially for newer or compounding pharmacies)
- Drives traffic into your pharmacy and creates upsolution and Rx transfer opportunities
Prepare Your Pharmacy for Administrating Vaccines
If you are not yet offering immunizations, it’s essential to do some prep work before marketing your new service. If you are an experienced immunizer, then you can easily skip ahead.
You will need to make a couple of lists.
First, make a list of all the supplies you will need. Walkthrough the process you want your patients to follow in your pharmacy. Take note of everything you will need. Here are some common items:
- 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
Next, make a list for training your employees. Ensure you follow your state rules and OSHA guidelines (see below). Here are a few common training points:
- OSHA bloodborne pathogen training
- Needlestick protocol
- Emergency situation drill
- Fainting protocol
Lastly, create a list of things to change in the pharmacy. 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 understand 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.
During the office hours session, many had questions about placing preorders for vaccines to where the best place is to get supplies. Check out some of my personal favorites that I’ve listed below, or feel free to work with your current supplier.
I typically get my flu shots from FFF Enterprises, where I’ve been purchasing supplies for over 10 years. I tend to preorder early (I recommend you do the same), and so far, I’ve had good experiences with them. However, many wholesalers have flu shots, so feel free to shop around.
You can purchase ancillary supplies from your regular wholesaler, but you may find more variety and better pricing elsewhere. I recommend checking out IPD Pharma Supply who has tons of supplies for vaccines like syringes and alcohol swabs. Health Care Logistics is another excellent online supply store for vaccine supplies, needle holders, and related products.
It’s vital that if you plan to perform a service with needles, you and your staff take the bloodborne pathogens training 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 title wouldn’t necessarily have them exposed. 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 for 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.
Vaccines Best Practices
The Immunization Action Coalition website is about to become your best friend. You can download vaccine information statements, pre-screening questionaries, and more – all for free! This website will help you through the entire vaccine process, and 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 to you for a small fee, which in some cases can be easier for a busy pharmacy owner. Many states have expanded the pharmacists’ scope of practice to include many or all vaccines. Be sure to check with your state to follow the proper guidelines. Under the HHS COVID rules, all pharmacists, regardless of state vaccine scope of practice, can administer COVID vaccines.
If you recently attended either of our Pharmacy Profit Summits, you may recall discussions about marketing strategies and tips. Immunizations are the perfect reason to try new 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!
You can market your vaccine services online through Facebook, Facebook Lives, LinkedIn, Instagram, and even TikTok. Social media is great for getting access to a broad audience at a very low cost (or free!). Be sure to include information as your hours, if appointments are necessary, or any age limitations.
Reaching out to locally owned businesses is another great way to get the word out in your community. Places like private daycares, hair salons, local insurance companies, and locations in business malls are great to target for marketing partnerships or to offer onsite immunization services. You might also consider businesses like chiropractors, physical therapists, or restaurants because their companies wouldn’t exist without close proximity to people. When you get the flu shot in, let other local businesses know because they likely don’t have corporate agreements in place, and you can capture their business.
Lastly, think about service or charity groups. You could partner with church groups, non-profits, or local schools to bring a vaccine clinic to them or offer group discounts at your pharmacy.
If you need any help creating marketing flyers or brochures for your pharmacy, DiversifyRx can help you with that. Feel free to email us at email@example.com.
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