Pharmacy Professor Seizes Teaching (and Learning) Moments at Community Vaccine Clinics
Danielle Davis-Khoromana, PharmD, Assistant Professor of Pharmacy Practice at Loma Linda University.
For Danielle Davis-Khoromana, PharmD, running a vaccine clinic during a pandemic required on-the-job training. But the Assistant Professor of Pharmacy Practice at Loma Linda University didn’t let logistical challenges get in the way of vaccinating some of the most vulnerable populations in San Bernardino, California.
When the Loma Linda University School of Pharmacy received its first supply of COVID-19 vaccine, Davis-Khoromana and pharmacy colleagues partnered with local African American churches to ensure the vaccine reached racial and ethnic minorities in the community. The team of pharmacists set up a vaccine clinic on the third floor of a campus building in town and dedicated certain clinic days exclusively for members of the church congregations.
Davis-Khoromana sent information promoting the COVID-19 vaccine clinics to the church pastors, which they passed along to their congregants. But she didn’t expect the news to travel as quickly as it did.
“I saw information about that vaccine clinic, which I had not shared with anyone else, posted in a local Facebook group I am in. I thought, ‘Oh, it’s going to be a long couple of days,’” Davis-Khoromana said.
On the first couple of days of the COVID-19 vaccine clinic, Loma Linda pharmacy professors and student pharmacists saw about 200 patients per day. On the third day, demand for the vaccine skyrocketed: they vaccinated 690 patients.
“At one point, the elevator overheated, and we had to use a different elevator,” said Davis-Khoromana. “And while the wait time had been 30 to 45 minutes on the first few days, it was 2 hours on the third day. We just didn’t have the workforce to support that many patients at once.”
Davis-Khoromana seized the learning opportunity and pressed on. She and her student pharmacists explained the reason for the wait to the line of patients wrapped around the exterior of the building. Chairs were set out for those who couldn’t stand for long periods. The clinic was running efficiently when the vaccinees returned in a few weeks for their second dose.
Pharmacists must continue to be champions for COVID-19 vaccine and other vaccines.
More than 2,500 patients from predominantly minority communities were vaccinated by Davis-Khoromana and the student pharmacists she precepted. During that time, they became well practiced in how to approach hesitant patients. When patients sought specific vaccines, Davis-Khoromana made sure they understood risks and benefits of the various vaccines. When patients expressed concerns about the speed with which the vaccines became available, the pharmacist explained that no safety-related steps were skipped in the development process.
“You can’t pressure people into making a particular decision,” Davis-Khoromana said. “All you can do is have an open and honest conversation with them and present them with the facts.”
Even after patients had been vaccinated, Davis-Khoromana continued to take advantage of every opportunity to educate them about COVID-19 vaccines. While they waited during the 15-minute observation period after their vaccination, the pharmacist led patients in group discussions about COVID-19 vaccines, how they worked, and why they were necessary.
“Seeing faces light up with understanding as you provided [patients] with good, scientific information that they could use to help somebody else understand—that made a big impact on me.”
As pharmacists continue the push to convert vaccine contemplative people in their communities, Davis Khoromana shares advice, “Pharmacists have to continue to be vaccine champions—not just the COVID-19 vaccine, but all vaccines.”
Resources to Reach Diverse Communities and Community Outreach Tools are available at APhA’s Vaccine Confident microsite.