Latest PDL insights for COVID-19 vaccinations

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The PDL Professional Officers continue to assist pharmacists with enquiries and incidents involving COVID-19 vaccines. Recent calls and reports have identified several consistent themes in these conversations with key preventative actions being the following.

1. ALWAYS check the AIR before vaccinating to confirm the patient’s age in years.

  • The date of birth has been converted into age in years incorrectly by a pharmacy staff member.
  • The date of birth can be misrepresented by the patient or the parent with the intent to access a vaccine for a person under the minimum approved age.

2. ALWAYS check the AIR before vaccinating to confirm the patient’s identity.

  • A very small number of cases involved a person making a booking and engaging another person to attend for the vaccination.
  • This situation may arise if a vaccine-hesitant person is seeking to gain a vaccination certificate for employment or other regulated purposes.
  • PDL recommends that photo ID is requested for all COVID-19 vaccines to confirm the person’s identity. This process is standard practice and may also eliminate errors for patients with similar names.

3. ALWAYS check the AIR before vaccinating to confirm the patient hasn’t received prior vaccination.

  • A small number of reports identify patients who attend pharmacies for a Spikevax (Moderna) vaccination after previously receiving one or two doses of Vaxzevria (AstraZeneca) or Comirnaty (Pfizer).
  • Understandably, there is anxiety in the community about vaccine efficacy and protection and pharmacists should be alerted to assist these people with advice and referral to approved guidelines.
  • Confirm the brand of vaccine to be administered to a patient attending for their second dose.

4. ALWAYS ask the patient to confirm the vaccine they expect to receive using open questions.

  • For example, “As a final check before vaccination, please confirm which vaccine you expect to receive today?”

5. Remain vigilant whenever handling vaccines with the availability of a second COVID-19 dose in pharmacies.

  • Confusion has occurred when offering both Vaxzevria and Spikevax particularly with storage, preparation and managing patients seeking first or second doses of either vaccine.
  • Separate all handling of different brands e.g., colour coding, different storage locations, different sessions or days for different vaccines.
  • Avoid distractions when preparing doses to ensure correct vials are used, empty vials are discarded and correct doses are loaded – plus, consider using a double check system.

See previous COVID-19 vaccination alerts.

For immediate advice and incident support, call PDL on 1300 854 838 to speak with one of our Professional Officers. We are here to support our pharmacist members 24/7, Australia-wide.