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.
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:
Reduce Direct Contact: Implement the most efficient strategy to administer medications including reducing the number of direct contact opportunities with a resident.
Aside from medications that need specific administration times, determine which medications in a resident’s regimen may be given at the same times to reduce the amount of close contact with the resident.
For medications that are dosed multiple times a day, consider switching to a long-acting formulation or another agent that can be given less frequently to reduce the frequency of administration.
Respiratory Medication Administration Safety: If a resident has suspected or confirmed COVID-19 and is on nebulizer therapy, switch to a metered dose inhaler (MDI) with a holding chamber or spacer if appropriate and available.
Those on nebulized bronchodilators may be more likely to cough or wheeze due to air flow obstruction. If a resident with suspected or confirmed COVID-19 must remain on nebulizer therapy, be sure to wear appropriate personal protective equipment when administering their medication. Additionally, consider using a mask for the resident instead of a mouthpiece with the nebulizer.
If a resident may switch to a metered dose in haler, ensure that the resident is able to comply with administration requirements.
Pharmacy Collaboration: Safely collaborate with the consultant pharmacist, medical director, director of nursing, and providers to determine if any medications can be deprescribed.
Consultant pharmacists can assist in the identification of medications that may be considered non-critical.
Assess any PRN medications that are not utilized and determine if they are able to be discontinued.
Consider discontinuing any medications that provide minimal clinical benefit or are safe to temporarily discontinue (multivitamins, calcium, herbal medications, etc.)
Reduce monitoring of medication efficacy or discontinue medications that require frequent monitoring, if appropriate.
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