We’ve all been through the roller coaster ride of COVID-19 and I’m certain every one of us has been affected by it in one way or another. I never imagined a year ago that I would ever be working on a mass vaccination project to beat a novel corona virus. I joined the project in early December feeling quite excited at the prospect of working with the then newly approved Pfizer Covid vaccine. The vaccine was at the time the only approved vaccine so there was a great amount of public interest in it and everyone had questions. It has been a great learning experience watching ourselves and the other healthcare staff adjust to the challenges of working with a novel drug and also reassuring patients who may be feeling apprehensive.
Our role as pharmacists in the covid vaccination clinic is to oversee and supervise the entire process from start to finish, ensuring the process runs according to the national protocol and therefore responsible for the correct receipt, storage, reconstitution and supply of the vaccine. Our team of pharmacists is also on hand to answer any questions from the other healthcare staff on issues such as whether the vaccine is suitable for the patient or not. Once the patients have had their vaccine they must be observed for 15 minutes, we assist with the process of reporting adverse effects to the MHRA through the yellow card reporting system
Our team helps manage stock levels and we ensure that we have enough vials available to cover all the booked appointments but we have to balance this against the risk of the cold chain being broken and the vials having to be destroyed. The vials are treated like a controlled drug so we have to maintain records of requisition and receipt in a CD register. We also have to check that the cold chain is being maintained so we have to constantly monitor the fridge temperature and also the temperature in transit from the cold fridge in the hospital pharmacy to the storage fridge in the clinic. The vials are stored in the storage fridge in the clinic once they have been signed in. Each vial is then signed out by a pharmacist who then reconstitutes the vial whilst being supervised by another pharmacist. Once the vial has been reconstituted it is then taken to another station where the nurses draw up the syringes and administer the vaccine to patients. One pharmacist supervises the drawing up process to ensure that each vaccine is drawn up correctly. The nurses then administer the vaccine under the guidance of the national protocol. It is therefore vital for our team to be familiar with the vaccine and alert to any changes in national guidance/recommendations with regards to the vaccine.
It has been an exciting and very rewarding journey watching thousands of patients walk through the doors of our clinic and benefit from the mass vaccination programme. I am so grateful to Tohidul, Adib and the teams at TPC and Medwing for offering us this amazing opportunity and I strongly advise anyone contemplating joining the project to not hesitate and join. It is a great honour working on such an amazing project and knowing that every day we are helping win the fight against the pandemic. It may be a long battle but I am confident one day we will look back and be proud that we played a part in overcoming the pandemic.