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On August 23, 2021, the FDA approved the first COVID-19 vaccine. The Pfizer- BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine is now approved for individuals 16 years of age and older and will be marketed as Comirnaty. Individuals that are 12 to 15 years in age are still able to get the vaccine at this time under the emergency use authorization (EUA). With this approval, it confirms that the vaccine is safe, effective, and meets manufacturing quality.
COVID-19 Booster shots are now becoming available!
The COVID-19 vaccines have shown to be effective in decreasing hospitalization, severe illness, and death. Overtime, individual’s protection to the virus may decrease, especially with the new variants such as the Delta variant. A booster shot would ensure that you remain protected. This fall, only those that received the Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna COVID-19 vaccines would be eligible to receive a booster shot.
Who will be eligible for a booster shot?
Patients that received their second dose of Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna vaccine 8 months ago will be eligible. The plan will be to start administering the booster shot in the fall.
Who will get the booster shot first?
Similar to the initial rollout of the vaccine, booster shots will be offered to those that are at the most risk for COVID-19. These individuals include healthcare workers, long-term care residents, and other older adults.
What if I received the J&J/Janssen COVID-19 vaccine?
While there is no booster shot currently available for those that received the J&J/Janssen COVID-19 vaccine, it is expected that there will be one available next year. Since the J&J/Janssen vaccine was offered to the public after the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccine, the data is not yet available.
What is the difference between a booster shot and an additional dose?
A third dose of the vaccine is for certain individuals that are immunocompromised and did not build enough protection from the first two doses of the vaccine. These individuals can receive the vaccine at least 28 days after second dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna COVID-19 vaccines.
On the other hand, booster shots are being offered because individuals were once fully protected from COVID-19, but now that protection is starting to decrease. The Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna COVID-19 booster shots will be offered to individuals 8 months after their second dose.
Information is accurate as of 8-29-2021
Vaccine Information Center
A. Viral vectors use a modified version from a different virus to deliver information to cells. The viral vector COVID-19 vaccine uses a different, harmless virus to enter cells in the body in order to produce the spike protein of the COVID-19 virus. This spike protein is harmless
Similar to the mRNA vaccines effects, our cells present the spike protein on its surface so that our immune system recognizes this foreign protein and can start producing antibodies against it
A. There is currently insufficient data to determine whether there are vaccine-associated risks in those who are pregnant or breastfeeding.
However, the CDC states that if you are pregnant you may choose to be vaccinated as there is no evidence that the antibodies formed from COVID-19 vaccination can cause any problem with pregnancy. The CDC is continually updating its guidance on COVID-19 vaccination
A. Individuals with a known history of severe allergic reaction to any components of the Janssen COVID-19 vaccine are contraindicated
A. There is no data available regarding the use of the Janssen COVID-19 vaccine to complete another vaccination series
A. There is currently no data available regarding the use of this vaccine with other vaccines
Vaccine Information Center
Q: What are the benefits of receiving a COVID-19 vaccine?
A: Getting vaccinated will decrease your risk of contracting and getting sick from the COVID-19 virus like the influenza vaccine decreases your risk of contracting the flu virus. The benefits of receiving the vaccine far exceed the risks of contracting COVID-19 and potentially having serious, life-threatening or life-long complications. Being vaccinated will help stop the pandemic in combination with following CDC guidelines.
Q: Vaccines usually take years to develop. The COVID-19 vaccines have been developed in under a year, how do I know they are safe?
A: The Phase 3 trials that took place for the COVID-19 vaccines were of similar size and nature to the Phase 3 trials that have taken place for other vaccines and medications.
Here is what the process looks like:
The data gathered from Phase 3 trials is subject to extensive review by independent experts in multiple areas of science including immunology, statistics, infectious diseases, virology, and vaccinology.
Once a pharmaceutical or biotechnology company submits a vaccine to the FDA for Emergency Authorization Use, it undergoes another round of review by the Vaccine and Related Biologics Product Approval Committee (VRBPAC). This committee then provides advice to the FDA before any decision is made.
Once the FDA decides to approve a vaccine, it goes through another round of review by the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP). The ACIP then makes recommendations to the CDC on who should and shouldn’t get the vaccine.
Finally, once a vaccine is approved and individuals are deciding whether to get it, they will have access to information that summarizes the clinical trial findings. This includes data related to any side effects found during the trials and who should or should not get the vaccine.
Authorized Vaccines (as of 2/18/21)
Q: Can you get sick from receiving the SARS-CoV2 protein or the modified virus through the vaccine?
A: No, the proteins will not make you sick, however you may experience side effects from the vaccine.
Q: Will I experience side effects from receiving the COVID-19 vaccine?
A: Yes, it is possible to experience side effects from these vaccines much like the annual influenza vaccine or any other vaccination. These side effects can range from a sore arm to feeling warm or muscle aches. These are signs that an immune response is building in your body and are completely normal. Experiencing these side effects does not mean you have a mild form of the virus
Q: Will I have to receive multiple shots in order to gain the full immunity to COVID-19?
A: The Pfizer vaccine and Moderna vaccine both require the use of two vaccinations to gain the full effect. The Johnson & Johnson vaccine (currently under FDA review for emergency use authorization) will require a single vaccination.
Q: Should I get the vaccine if I already had COVID-19?
A: Yes, it is recommended. Previous COVID-19 infection is not considered a contraindication to receiving the vaccine. Antibody testing is not necessary or recommended prior to receiving the COVID-19 vaccination per CDC guidance.
Healthcare workers who tested positive for COVID-19 within the previous 90 days have a choice to delay receiving the vaccine until near the end of the 90 days to allow other healthcare workers to get vaccinated first. There is evidence suggesting reinfection of COVID-19 is not common 90-days post initial infection.
Q: Will the COVID-19 vaccine make me test positive for COVID?
A: No, the COVID vaccine will not cause you to test positive for a viral test. You may however test positive if the test is measuring antibodies. This is the desired result of the vaccine. The goal of vaccination is for your body to produce antibodies to be ready to fight COVID-19 once you are exposed.
Q: Once I receive the vaccine do I still have to wear a mask and follow social distancing guidelines?
A: Yes, it is recommended that even if you receive the vaccine that you still follow all guidelines set by the CDC. This is because it will take time to immunize the entire country to the point where there is no concern of transmission.
For Grane Rx’s full vaccine FAQ please visit our COVID-19 Vaccine Information Center.
Analyzing Medication Administration Times Moving Forward: Gain Workflow Efficiencies and Resident Safety
While evaluating and optimizing medication administration practices are especially important in the short term to prevent transmission of COVID-19, in the long term, these strategies help make workflow more efficient, medication regimens safer for residents, and prevent the spread of other microbes overall.
Consolidating Medication Administration: To help determine the most efficient strategy in administering medications, analyze the way in which a resident’s medications are currently administered. Look for ways to reduce the number of visits to the resident which require direct or very close contact (such as medication administration), thereby allowing time for other care related tasks or socialization opportunities as well as reducing pill burden for residents.
Flex Time Administration: For medications that do not need to be administered at very specific times, consider switching to a flexible medication administration schedule or the universal medication schedule to minimize the number of medication passes per day. These schedules allow for more flexibility in administration of medications throughout the day for the nursing staff and are generally more resident-friendly.
For example, under the universal medication schedule, the directions “take one tablet twice daily” may become “take one tablet in the morning and one tablet at bedtime”. Medications with directions written according to the universal medication system at a certain time of day can then be given together in one administration time rather than at separate, specific times.
For example, a medication that was originally scheduled to be administered at 10:00 AM and another scheduled to be administered at 9:00 AM can be given at the same time “in the morning”, as long as there are no interactions or restrictions. This reduces the number of medication passes from two to one.
Assess for Unnecessary Medication: As mentioned previously, it is important to actively and continuously work with other healthcare professionals on your team to make sure the resident’s medication regimen does not have any unnecessary medications. Reducing the amount of medications in a resident’s regimen in turn reduces the frequency of administration times.
Eliminating unnecessary medications not only minimizes transmission of microbes, but also minimizes the opportunity for medication interactions and adverse effects. Unnecessary medications may complicate medication regimens and increase pill burden. The more medications in a resident’s regimen, the more chance of a resident experiencing adverse effects and potential medication interactions.
Prevention is an Outcome: in the older adult population, medication management can go a long way in preventing falls, potential visits to the emergency room, and reducing costs.
The above medication management and administration strategies can help reduce transmission of microbes and allow for efficient and safe medication administration overall. Grane Rx consultant pharmacists can help implement these strategies as they have the ability to analyze your facility medication pass distribution and resident pill burden to help balance and optimize the efficiency of medication administration.
Reduce Transmission of COVID-19. During this emergency, it is important to take all precautions to reduce transmission of COVID-19. While we are actively working to increase infection control practices and maximize physical distancing, as health care professionals, we must continue to provide care for our residents as well as ensure that they are receiving the medications they need.
Reducing the frequency of medication administration is one additional way to help reduce direct physical contact and potentially reduce transmission of COVID-19.
Here are some tips for evaluating potential areas of opportunity to impact frequency of medication administration: