The Victorian Pharmacy Authority has updated its guidelines on facilities for vaccination services, saying this is a timely reminder on workload and supervision
The latest update on the guidelines on facilities for vaccination services has a focus on premises requirements specific to pharmacies preparing vaccines from multi-dose vials… such as COVID-19 vaccines.
“The vaccine preparation area (in which vaccines from multi-dose vials are drawn up, labelled and prepared for administration) must be away from direct patient contact, distraction and separate from areas that provide other pharmacy services at the same time,” says the VPA in its latest circular.
“This is to ensure that proper attention is given to the activity and to reduce the risk of error.
“Contamination risks associated with the use of multi-dose vials can be mitigated by having a dedicated vaccination preparation area that is clean, hygienic, and uncluttered and by implementing an appropriate cleaning and disinfection schedule.
“VPA inspectors will be inspecting to the updated guidelines on facilities for vaccination services and good pharmacy practice to support compliance.”
David McConville, Chair of the VPA, says that pharmacies are essential to increasing access to vaccination services, which has been “highlighted in the rollout of the COVID-19 vaccination program in approved participating pharmacies”.
“Pharmacists have demonstrated their ability to provide vaccination services to a high standard and it is important that this is maintained with the COVID-19 vaccination program,” he wrote.
“I wish to remind all licensees of their responsibility to make themselves sufficiently aware of the manner in which their pharmacy is being conducted, including the provision of vaccination services, to ensure that it is being carried on in accordance with the law and good pharmacy practice.
“This communiqué also serves as a timely reminder regarding workload and supervision in the context of vaccination services and highlights important considerations when administering different COVID-19 vaccine brands.”
The VPA says that licensees and pharmacists in charge should “regularly assess the impact of vaccination demand on pharmacy workload and implement measures to mitigate the risk of burnout and errors”.
“This is critical with the anticipated surge of COVID-19 vaccines and with that the demand for vaccination in pharmacies.”
Examples of mitigating measures it lists include:
- Using a booking system and limiting the number of bookings and walk-ins.
- Employing additional pharmacists and other dispensary staff.
- Designating specific days of the week to vaccinating when there is an adequate number of trained and qualified staff on duty.
- Training and delegating staff to manage queries of a non-clinical nature.
The VPA also asks licensees and pharmacists in charge to consider whether the pharmacy is adequately supervised.
“Consideration should be given to the workload, workflow, and foot traffic of the pharmacy, staffing level and whether adequate procedures are in place to ensure the pharmacy can be adequately supervised whilst vaccination services are being provided, which may be especially challenging in the case of a sole pharmacist operated pharmacy.”
Certain measures may need to be implemented, such as:
- Rostering or employing additional pharmacist(s) so that there is a sufficient number of pharmacists on duty on designated vaccination days.
- Using a booking system so that vaccinations occur on days or at times where the pharmacy is not busy or outside of opening hours.
- Having adequate procedures in place e.g., on how to manage schedule 3 medication requests while the pharmacist is vaccinating.