Family Pharmacy Vaccinates Youngest Members of the Community

Pharmacist Henry Ranger vaccinates a pediatric patient at The Prescription Shoppe in Williamsburg, Virginia.

Pharmacist Henry Ranger vaccinates a pediatric patient at The Prescription Shoppe in Williamsburg, Virginia.

As eligibility for COVID-19 vaccine was expanded to younger populations, Jade Ranger, PharmD, began to notice new reservations arising in parents of young children. While parents might have been enthusiastic about bringing in their adolescent and teenaged children for vaccination, some parents were less eager for their elementary school- and preschool-aged children to be first in line to receive a COVID-19 vaccine.

“With the younger ones, some of the parents seemed like they wanted to watch and wait for a little while and see how it played out before they brought their own small children in,” said Ranger, who co-owns and operates The Prescription Shoppe in Williamsburg, Virginia, with her husband Henry Ranger, PharmD.

Jade Ranger felt that her role as a community pharmacist was to lead by example. She and her pharmacist husband picked up their new shipment of vaccines the morning after it was approved for children ages 5 years and older. That same morning, their 8-year-old son became their pharmacy’s youngest COVID-19 vaccination patient at that time.

The Rangers promptly shared the moment across The Prescription Shoppe’s social media accounts. Accompanying the photos of their grinning boy were the words, “As pharmacists, we advocate for vaccines. As parents, we’d be lying if we said we weren’t a little nervous. Bottom line: We believe that the benefits outweigh the risks, and we want to protect our children from the virus.”

It was important to Jade Ranger to acknowledge that she, too, felt a little nervous injecting the COVID-19 vaccine into her son. As a health care provider, she says that she can’t dismiss parents’ fears or any concerns that a potential patient may have. “You have to be very careful when you have these conversations. You don’t want to belittle anyone or make them feel stupid or as if they’ve been given bad advice.”

Jade Ranger believes her social media post helped change some minds. “After that, so many parents reached out with personal messages that said things like, ‘I was really nervous, but when I saw that you vaccinated your son, it put me at ease, and now I feel like we should get it done for our children,’” she said.

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When children aged 6 months to 5 years became eligible for COVID-19 vaccine, The Prescription Shoppe was among the first in town to offer it to this age group. Many pharmacists in the area, Jade Ranger says, aren’t comfortable administering the vaccine to such young children.

Through standing orders with a local physician, The Prescription Shoppe has offered pediatric vaccines for children ages 6 years and older since it opened in 2019. From then on, Jade Ranger says, patients have come to know the independent pharmacy as a “one-stop shot shop.” For the Rangers, it was an easy decision to extend their vaccine offerings to include COVID-19 vaccine to young children once they were eligible.

When they started vaccinating young children, the pharmacists used an appointment-based schedule and allotted 20 minutes for this special population; their initial expectation was that these patient encounters would require more time. But now children can get vaccinated without an appointment—just like adults. To date, The Prescription Shoppe has administered COVID-19 vaccines to some 17,000 adults and children in their community.

Resources to Tailor Your Outreach to specific populations and Answer Common Questions about COVID-19 vaccines are available at APhA’s Vaccine Confident microsite.