Livonia, MI—Vaccine administration by pharmacy technicians within a supermarket chain not only increased immunization volumes, but it also improved pharmacy workflow and increased pharmacists’ job satisfaction, according to a new study.

Noting that vaccine administration by pharmacy technicians has not been extensively studied, a team from Meijer, Inc., Pharmacy in Livonia Michigan; Pfizer, Inc., in Hartland, Michigan; and Wayne State University Eugene Applebaum College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences in Detroit sought to determine the impact of implementing immunizing pharmacy technicians (IPTs) on vaccination volume in a community pharmacy chain and assess pharmacy staffs’ perspectives on the clinical abilities of IPTs and their impact on pharmacy workflow and job satisfaction.

For the study published in Exploratory Research in Clinical and Social Pharmacy, retrospective data analysis compared the number of vaccines administered in the supermarket pharmacy chain from September to March 2019 to 2020 and 2020 to 2021 in pharmacies with IPTs versus those without IPTs. To ascertain the secondary objective, investigators developed and deployed two role-based mixed quantitative/qualitative surveys among pharmacy staff.

The results indicated that pharmacies with IPTs had a greater mean increase in vaccination volume from 2019–2020 to 2020–2021 versus those without IPTs (+159.35 vs. +104.57, P = .011). “Among IPT survey respondents, 50/75 (66.7%) felt more satisfied with their job after receiving immunization training. Among pharmacist respondents, 80/119 (67.3%) felt that IPTs positively impacted their job satisfaction and 61.7% felt that pharmacist clinical services were either somewhat positively affected, or positively affected,” according to the report.

The researchers concluded that implementing IPTs can increase the volume of vaccines administered in a chain pharmacy while positively affecting job satisfaction and pharmacy workflow.

Background information in the articles notes that the role of the pharmacy technician in the United States has evolved significantly in recent years. While previously the technicians primarily were involved in prescription data entry, filling, and inventory management, they now have emerging roles, such as point-of-care testing, managing clerical aspects of patient care services, and continuous quality improvement initiatives.

“Despite the challenges brought on by this evolution, technicians demonstrated favorable attitudes, willingness, and self-efficacies towards performing several of these advanced roles,” study authors pointed out.

In October 2020, as part of the fourth amendment to the Public Readiness and Emergency Preparedness (PREP) Act for Medical Countermeasures Against COVID-19, which provides liability immunity for the administration of medical countermeasures against certain diseases, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services formally recognized pharmacy technicians as personnel capable of vaccine administration and outlined the regulatory and training requirements to become a “qualified” pharmacy technician under the PREP Act. Those requirements called for technicians to be licensed and/or registered in the state where they practice (if the state does not require licensure or registration, the technician must be certified by the Pharmacy Technician Certification Board or National Health Career Association), complete an Accreditation Council for Pharmacy Education (ACPE)–approved practical training program, have a current certificate in basic cardiopulmonary resuscitation, complete a minimum of 2 hours of ACPE-approved, immunization-related continuing pharmacy education during each licensing period, and inform families of the importance of well-child visits when vaccinating patients aged ≤18 years.

“As a result of the new guidance, immunizing pharmacy technicians (IPTs) have rapidly become more prevalent in both chain and independent community pharmacies,” the study advised. “Despite this, few studies exist assessing the impact of implementing IPTs in community practice. “

In the summer of 2020, clinical pharmacy specialists at the Meijer supermarket pharmacy chain partnered with faculty at an affiliated college of pharmacy at Wayne State to develop an ACPE-accredited certificate training program in immunization administration for pharmacy technicians. The program, titled “Moving the Needle: Immunization Training for Pharmacy Technicians,” was designed to meet the training requirements of the PREP Act guidance and consists of three components: an online self-study (including a post-test knowledge assessment), a virtual live training session, and an in-person injection technique assessment.

From August 2020 to October 2020, according to the article, 238 technicians from 129 different pharmacy locations in Michigan and Illinois successfully completed the program and began administering vaccines under the supervision of qualified pharmacists.

The authors suggested their study could encourage other pharmacy professionals to investigate similar outcomes on a larger scale and explore the impact of IPTs on different aspects of pharmacy and public health.

The content contained in this article is for informational purposes only. The content is not intended to be a substitute for professional advice. Reliance on any information provided in this article is solely at your own risk.

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