Community Pharmacy Technician “Plants the Seed” for Patients to Request Vaccination

Pharmacist Precious Hoffmann (right) talks to a colleague in front of the Virginia Department of Health mobile clinic for the Prince William Health District.

Pharmacy Technician Sarah Seiderman administers a COVID-19 vaccine to a patient at Rite Aid in Commerce Township, Michigan.

When Sarah Seiderman, a licensed immunizing pharmacy technician at Rite Aid in Commerce Township, Michigan, sees patients for their vaccine appointments, she takes the opportunity to print out their vaccination record from the Michigan Care Improvement Registry (MCIR) and show them the recommended vaccines they may need. The process prompts patients to think about being due for vaccines much like they think of being due for other preventive care such as mammograms and colonoscopies.

In this way, Seiderman has won over quite a few patients who hadn’t been planning to get a COVID-19 vaccine. When more clinical data, evaluation, or questions arose, she tag-teamed with the pharmacist.

Recently, a married couple and their two small children came into the pharmacy so that the wife could get a COVID-19 vaccine. When Seiderman shared the MCIR printout and indicated that the woman was also due for a flu shot and hepatitis A and B vaccines, her husband asked if he could see his entry in the registry as well.

Upon seeing how long it had been since he’d had a flu shot and the primary COVID-19 series, the man rolled up his sleeves to be vaccinated that day. Both parents were vaccinated against COVID-19, flu, and hepatitis A and B.

“He hadn’t been scheduled for anything at all, but they both ended up getting [all of their recommended] shots,” Seiderman said. “And their children watched. It was a great interaction—for them to see their parents getting vaccines and having a positive experience with it.”

Not everyone acts on Seiderman’s advice right then and there in the pharmacy. But what matters, she said, is that immunizers continue to “plant the seed” so that patients start thinking about vaccination and develop the desire to be immunized.

When an older woman visited the pharmacy for a shingles vaccine, Seiderman showed the MCIR printout to her and explained that she was also due for a flu shot and a COVID-19 booster. At first, the woman said she didn’t need a booster and explained that no one in her social circle was getting COVID-19 anymore.

Practice Pearl

At every vaccine appointment, take the opportunity to discuss with patients any other vaccines they may be due to receive. Make immunizations as normal a part of adult preventive care as mammograms and colonoscopies.

Learn more

Seiderman countered that even if COVID-19 wasn’t going around the woman’s immediate circle, it was still going around the community and that she could get it from anyone. Seiderman added that she personally had COVID-19 just before she would have been due for a booster. Even though she hadn’t been hospitalized—a benefit of the vaccine—she became very sick and wouldn’t want anyone else to experience such illness.

“Then [the patient] seemed to change her mind completely,” Seiderman said. “She said, ‘I’m really going to think about this.’”

While the woman didn’t get the COVID-19 booster at the same time as her shingles vaccine, she assured Seiderman that she’d give it serious consideration.

“You just have to keep planting the seed. Even though they might not get it that day, they may walk away, talk to their doctor, talk to their friends, and decide to come back for it later.”

Resources to support Educating Your Health Care Team and tools to Discuss the Importance of COVID-19 Vaccination are available at APhA’s Vaccine Confident microsite.