Independent Pharmacy Becomes the Go-To for Vaccinating Pediatric Patients
Randy McDonough, PharmD, and Kelly Kent, PharmD, co-owners of Towncrest Pharmacy Corporation, prepare for a mass COVID-19 vaccination event in the gymnasium at Solon United Methodist Church in Solon, Iowa.
Recently, a mother brought her 4-year-old son into Towncrest Pharmacy in Iowa City, Iowa, for a COVID-19 vaccine. At first, everything was going smoothly, but when Randy McDonough, PharmD, the pharmacy co-owner, moved close, the little boy started kicking and screaming and wouldn’t stay still. The longer this went on, the more frustrated the boy’s mother became. When she raised her voice at him, the boy only became more agitated.
The last thing McDonough wants is for a child to be traumatized by a vaccination.
“I don’t want this negative experience to just stick in their mind forever and ever and for them to think that this is what happens every time you come into a pharmacy,” McDonough said.
Although it was not the most convenient option, and it might have raised the risk that the child wouldn’t get vaccinated at all, McDonough suggested that the mother bring her son back another time. “It felt to me that we were just doing more harm than good—not intentionally—and that it was becoming an increasingly negative event for the child, so I just wanted to start all over.”
McDonough was concerned not only about the lasting impression this experience might leave on the young patient, but also on the other children in the pharmacy who might see the boy’s behavior and, in turn, become frightened of getting vaccinated themselves.
When the little boy returned, McDonough was prepared to keep him calm and avoid stoking upset among other children in the pharmacy. But the little boy was already much calmer from the start. Still, McDonough led the mother and child straight back to a private area away from the other activity in the busy pharmacy. The separate section allowed for a more peaceful experience. The boy didn’t cry this time, and McDonough was able to administer the vaccine.
When vaccinating children, pharmacists should strive to make it a positive experience.
“I wanted him to know that this did not have to be a frightening experience,” McDonough said.
A teaching site for student pharmacists and pharmacy residents, Towncrest Pharmacy provides pediatric vaccination experience to pharmacists-in-training who might not have the opportunity to work with such young patients elsewhere.
“Some of them are very hesitant to vaccinate children initially, and over time, they develop confidence so that it becomes second nature to them by the end of their training,” McDonough said.
It’s this confidence that brings parents to Towncrest Pharmacy for their children’s vaccines—that and the pharmacy team’s years of experience.
Long before pharmacists had emergency authorization to vaccinate children against COVID-19, Towncrest Pharmacy began providing childhood vaccines to children ages 6 months and older through a collaborative practice agreement with a local pediatric medical practice. Pediatricians at the practice routinely send their patients to Towncrest Pharmacy once their own supply of a given vaccine has been exhausted. Towncrest was also among the first pharmacies in Iowa to join the national Vaccines for Children program, a federally funded program that provides vaccines at no cost to children who might not otherwise be vaccinated because of inability to pay.
“We have parents that come to us just because of the techniques we use, because we are able to distract their kids, or just because we’ve been successful with their kids in the past,” McDonough said.
Resources to Educate Your Health Care Team about COVID-19 vaccines and Tailor Your Outreach to specific populations are available at APhA’s Vaccine Confident microsite.