Is Your Pharmacy Staff Prepared for the 2020 Flu Season?
In a year when many patients hesitate to visit a doctor’s office due to concerns about the spread of COVID-19, some members of the public may wonder if getting a flu vaccination is worth the risk. In 2020, health experts still recommend getting vaccinated against the flu just as they do every year – in fact, flu vaccination is more important than ever this year.
Why the Flu Vaccine Is More Important Than Ever in 2020
In a bad flu season, millions of Americans develop flu symptoms, with up to 800,000 people requiring hospitalization every year. By getting the flu vaccination, Americans can prevent the overcrowding of our healthcare systems.
With many healthcare systems already strained by COVID-19 outbreaks, influenza outbreaks in COVID-19-affected areas could increase the burden on healthcare resources, causing testing and treatment delays, and diminishing the quality of care for all patients. Some patients could contract both influenza and COVID-19 at the same time, which increases the risk to their health and complicates treatment.
Since fewer patients are willing to visit the doctor during COVID-19, many will opt to visit a pharmacy for their flu shot instead of a medical provider. In addition, some places (such as workplaces) that usually offer flu vaccinations may not do so in 2020 because of social distancing and work from home requirements. For these reasons, pharmacies should expect higher numbers of patients requesting flu vaccines during the 2020 flu season. It’s important for pharmacies and their staff to prepare for an influx of patients.
Is Your Pharmacy Staff Ready for 2020 Flu Vaccinations?
The CDC anticipates high demand for the flu vaccine this fall and has developed an interim guide for flu vaccinations during the 2020 season. Manufacturers project they will have record numbers of doses available. Early surveys indicate that high numbers of Americans plan to get the flu vaccination, so pharmacies should prepare to administer large numbers of doses.
First, order enough doses to meet demand. Some pharmacies are ordering 40% more than they did last year. In addition to supplies, ensure you have enough staff to meet demand and that your staff’s certifications to administer vaccinations are current.
Next, increase safety measures that promote social distancing. You may need to order additional PPE (especially masks) for the 2020 flu season to meet social distancing requirements. Other safety measures may include:
- Installing plexiglass counter shields
- Re-configuring the furniture in common areas such as waiting rooms
- Using directional signs
- Moving some in-person aspects of pharmacy visits (such as filling out forms or scheduling future appointments) online
Verify Immunization Certifications and Licenses to Get Your Pharmacy Staff Ready
To ensure your staff is ready for the 2020 flu season, perform a pharmacy tech certification verification. First, verify Pharmacy Technician Certification Board (PTCB) certification. PTCB certification provides several types of national credentials used as industry standards to measure a pharmacy technician’s preparation and capability, so PTCB verification is important to ensure your patients and practice are protected. The Certified Pharmacy Technician is the first step, but you may also want to verify additional credentials.
In addition to your typical pharmacy tech verification, add Immunization Certification verification to your 2020 flu season preparation. Not all states currently allow pharmacy technicians to administer immunizations, but these restrictions may soon change. The PTCB recently announced that it is providing credentialing in immunization delivery for pharmacy technicians, in collaboration with the American Pharmacists Association (APHA). If your pharmacists and pharmacy technicians already have immunization certifications, check that they are current and valid.
Pharmacist license verification is also important. Requirements for licensure vary by state, and licenses are issued and verified by individual state boards. Many providers are licensed in multiple states, so it’s important to verify that your pharmacy technicians and pharmacists have current licenses and Immunization Certifications in all applicable states.
Providing safe and accessible flu vaccinations can prevent additional illness during the COVID-19 pandemic and help keep you, your patients, and your community safe. It’s vital to track which members of your staff have PTCB certification and which employees are authorized to administer immunizations in order to keep up with demand during the 2020 flu season. Verisys will verify your Specialty Certifications, including Immunization Certifications and License Verifications, to help you and your pharmacy be better prepared for the 2020 flu season.
|Written by Juliette Willard
Healthcare Communications Specialist
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