UCSF

School trains more pharmacists to deliver critical vaccinations

Many Americans are still waiting for their chance to get a COVID-19 vaccine to do their part in ending the pandemic. For many, these immunizations will occur at a familiar location: a local pharmacy.

Pharmacists have been critical to the U.S. COVID response, just as they are in the health system at large, because of their accessibility in the community and their expertise in everything from drug dosing to testing for COVID-19, and they will be crucial for providing these new inoculations to all.

Now, thanks to the work at the UCSF School of Pharmacy, there will be 72 more pharmacists in California authorized to give COVID-19 vaccines, all trained free of charge.

“Our goal is to get pharmacists trained and ready, not just for COVID but for future public health initiatives,” said Valerie Clinard, PharmD, who organized the certification events at sites around the state that support the School’s introductory pharmacy practice experiences (IPPEs) and advanced pharmacy practice experiences (APPEs).

While immunizations are now part of the School’s curriculum, not all practicing pharmacists had access to this training while in school, so those who want to add the skill have to take a certification class. The American Pharmacists Association (APhA) offers training, but participants have to pay for the license and often the time of their trainers, which can cost several hundred dollars.

Clinard was able to cover these costs using funds for a Curricular Transformation Award that would have been used to stage live events had the COVID-19 pandemic not happened. The events went on, virtually, and the money went to training vaccinators.

Vaccine certification training has four parts: a 12-hour, study-at-home portion; an eight-hour live lecture session, which was conducted over Zoom; an in-person technique assessment; and a final written test.

In addition to Clinard, School faculty members Crystal Zhou, PharmD; Samantha “Sam” Valle-Oseguera, PharmD; Robin Corelli, PharmD; and Sharon L. Youmans, PharmD, MPH helped conduct the Zoom lesson.

The technique assessment, which requires the pharmacists to administer a saline shot in place of a real vaccine, entailed complicated logistics. Clinard turned to Rickey Lee Bauman, MA, and James Ferguson in the School’s Office of Education and Instructional Services (OEIS) to assemble, track, and ship a package with a syringe, cotton balls, and saline for each student. The pharmacists were then evaluated by other pharmacists at their local practice sites as they gave test shots to volunteers.

“For years pharmacists have been essential for getting shots into patient arms,” Clinard said. “It’s great we can get these pharmacists trained for the road ahead.”

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Leading on COVID-19 vaccinations

The School of Pharmacy has been an integral part of UCSF’s efforts to distribute the COVID-19 vaccines. From inoculating patients to educating the public on the safety and efficacy of the COVID-19 vaccines, the School is working to be part of the solution to the coronavirus pandemic.

Check back for our latest coverage of the vaccination roll out.


About the School: The UCSF School of Pharmacy aims to solve the most pressing health care problems and strives to ensure that each patient receives the safest, most effective treatments. Our discoveries seed the development of novel therapies, and our researchers consistently lead the nation in NIH funding. The School’s doctor of pharmacy (PharmD) degree program, with its unique emphasis on scientific thinking, prepares students to be critical thinkers and leaders in their field.