Community Pharmacists Collaborate With Local Pediatric Clinics
Pharmacist Bridget Ogden with her daughter after administering a COVID-19 vaccine at a pediatric practice in Burnsville, Minnesota.
In the final weeks before COVID-19 vaccine was authorized by the FDA for use in children ages 5 to 11, Bridget Ogden, PharmD, was at the pediatrician’s office with her son. As the visit wrapped up, Ogden asked the physician about the practice’s plans to vaccinate their young patients when the time came.
“The doctor said, ‘I don’t think we can do it. We’re terrified [that] we don’t have [enough] staff,’” Ogden recalled.
Without the pediatrician’s office to vaccinate many of those children, Ogden, clinical point person of Cub Foods pharmacy, presumed they’d descend on the Cub pharmacies in the Twin Cities metro area of Minnesota.
“Our staff were spread just as thin as they were at the pediatric group,” said Ogden.
Ogden brainstormed and pitched an idea to her boss that would both moderate an overload of traffic in the pharmacy and help the medical office vaccinate its patient population: Cub pharmacists would partner with the pediatric practice. The pharmacists would administer vaccines on site at the pediatric office during evenings and weekends until every child in the practice was immunized.
To her surprise, both Ogden’s employer and her family’s pediatrician went for the idea.
The pediatric practice took care of scheduling appointments and provided front-desk staff. Cub sent a team of immunizers that included pharmacists and nurses.
The unique model, Ogden said, was ideal for getting pediatric patients vaccinated. It provided a familiar setting for the children to get their vaccination and demonstrated to families that the vaccine was recommended by their pediatrician.
“That was part of what was so exciting about partnering with a pediatric group,” Ogden said. “The recommendation was coming from their physician.”
Soon, word got out to other pediatric clinics around the state, and the phone started ringing at the pharmacy’s home office. Other pediatric groups wanted to enlist the Cub pharmacy teams, too.
When pitching an innovative partnership or practice model, let go of assumptions.
Ultimately, Cub pharmacy partnered with five pediatric clinic systems and ran vaccine clinics at 14 unique locations. From November 2021 to January 2023, they administered over 15,000 doses of COVID-19 vaccine to children in pediatric offices.
Several of the pediatric practices have already asked the pharmacists to return the next time a COVID-19 vaccine booster is recommended. The pharmacy team also has plans to provide other vaccines through this model.
“I think we are only at the beginning of this partnership,” Ogden said. “It could grow as we continue to see vaccines expand.”
The difference between vaccinating apprehensive children in a supermarket pharmacy versus in their own pediatrician’s office was like night and day, Ogden said. “The children are much easier to handle. It’s a familiar place, where you have room for parents and siblings. It was so nice to have that comfort level for the children.”
Access Community Outreach Tools and resources to Tailor Your Outreach to specific populations to help overcome COVID-19 vaccine concerns by visiting APhA’s Vaccine Confident microsite.