Five best practices for states conducting drive-thru COVID vaccinations are the implementation of IT, the use of backroom staff, Vaccine Preparation, Clinical Preparation and Supplies and Vaccine Storage and Handling. UCHealth was able to achieve the fastest vaccination process in 22 minutes, including check-in, vaccination, and a 15-minute observation period in a nearby parking lot to ensure no one had adverse reactions.
1. The Use of IT
- According to UCHealth, one of the best practices used to achieve its success in the mass drive-thru vaccination process for Coloradans was the use of IT techniques in saving time.
- Kathy Deanda, a nurse, a computer programmer, and UCHealth’s director of virtual health, “in addition to smart people, the team made the most of technology.”
- According to Mrs. Deanda, each tent at the site has handheld devices that look like smartphones called rovers.
- Also, in real-time, the (health care providers) are logging into EPIC, (the medical record), to enter the data of people who have been vaccinated.
- Dr. Richard Zane, executive director of emergency services at the UCHealth University of Colorado Hospital, and UCHealth’s Chief Innovation Officer corroborated what Mrs. Deanda said by saying that the secret sauce was IT.
- Deanda further opined that about 4,000 of the 5,000 patients ‘e-checked’ in before they arrived.
- They also brought their bar codes with them for easy check-ins and fast vaccination under a minute.
- The hospital was able to achieve the fastest vaccination process in 22 minutes, including check-in, vaccination, and a 15-minute observation period in a nearby parking lot to ensure no one had adverse reactions.
- Other Covid-19 vaccination drive-thru locations deemed as successful such as the Washoe County drive-thru site and the Broadbent Arena Drive-Thru site in Louisville, also conducted electronic check-ins.
2. Use of Backroom Staff
- UCHealth opined that another set of health care heroes were those working behind the scenes.
- For the site, a group of about 25 pharmacists and pharmacy technicians, who were quietly preparing thousands of doses of vaccines.
- They huddled in a tent at the edge of the parking lot, and over and over again, shook bottles of the precious liquid, then loaded it into syringes. Their guiding mission: not to waste a single molecule of the vaccine.
- Every once in a while, a cheer erupted from the tent. “We got a seventh!” said Christy Harmon, the pharmacy supervisor for the clinic.
- This referred to a very special seventh dose of vaccine that workers occasionally can eke out of a bottle.
- Christy Harmon, the pharmacy supervisor for the clinic, called them the heroes as they worked above and beyond their regular hours for the success of the vaccination.
- Other Covid-19 vaccination drive-thru locations deemed as successful such as the Washoe County drive-thru site and the Broadbent Arena Drive-Thru site in Louisville, were also seen to call in extra workforce.
3. Clinical Preparation and Supplies
- It is crucial to have a contingency plan in the event vaccines need to be replaced. “The plan should address the scenarios for vaccines compromised before arrival at the clinic and for vaccines compromised during clinic hours.”
- An emergency medical kit that includes equipment for maintaining an airway and epinephrine should always be at the clinic.
- The vaccination providers at the drive-thru clinic should be certified in cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR), be familiar with the symptoms of anaphylaxis, understand their role during an emergency, and be aware of where epinephrine is located and trained on its use.
- There should be a designated area for patients who have urgent medical problems such as fainting.
- Adequate infection control supplies including hand hygiene supplies and biohazard containers should be provided. “If administering injectable vaccines, adhesive bandages, individually package sterile alcohol wipes, and a sufficient number of sterile needles and syringes and a sharps container” should be provided.
- Staff members who administer vaccines should always review manufacturers’ guidelines for administration before the drive-thru clinic.
- Standing order protocols should be updated and available at the drive-thru clinic.
- The clinic should have an adequate number of vaccine information statements for every vaccine being offered.
- The clinic should have a designated cleaning area that can be used for vaccine preparation.
- A qualified staff member should be assigned to supervise infection control at the drive-thru clinic.
4. Vaccine Storage and Handling
- Proper storage equipment that maintains the temperature range recommended by the manufacturer should be used for storing vaccines. Examples of proper storage equipment include qualified containers and packouts and portable vaccine refrigerators that are designed to maintain the recommended temperatures.
- Vaccine temperature during the clinic should be monitored. This can be done “using a digital data logger with a buffered probe (placed directly with vaccines) and a current and valid Certificate of Calibration Testing.”
- If the site has a storage unit where vaccines are being stored, vaccine temperature data must be reviewed and recorded at least two times a day to ensure they maintain the correct temperatures. In this case the correct temperatures are “between 2–8° Celsius or 36–46° Fahrenheit for ALL refrigerated vaccines”
- If it is not possible to store the vaccines in a storage unit at the clinic, they should be stored in a qualified packout or vaccine refrigerator with a temperature monitoring device that is close to the vaccines. The temperatures should be read and recorded every hour and the container should remain closed most of the times.
- Vaccines should be kept away from direct sunlight as per manufacturer’s guidelines.
5. Vaccine Preparation
- Vaccine expiration dates should be checked during preparation and vaccines that have expired should not be administered.
- Vaccines should be prepared in a designated medication area that is clean and free from any potentially contaminated items.
- Reconstituted vaccines should be prepared according to the guidelines provided by the manufacturer.
- Vaccines should be prepared during the time of administration.
- All syringes, single-dose vials, and multidose vials should be labeled with the vaccine’s name.