CPhT CONNECT™ Magazine - Jan/Feb 2021



Like pharmacists, pharmacy technicians have been granted authority under federal law to provide vaccines if a number of training conditions exist. It is anticipated that this authority will be time-limited and will be rescinded following the COVID pandemic. That is not an indication, however, that pharmacy technicians will lose the authority to vaccinate. In several states including Idaho, Utah, Michigan, Nevada, Rhode Island, and Washington, pharmacy technicians had the authority to vacci- nate before the federal ruling. These statutes will remain, even when the federal authority is withdrawn. It is possible that many additional states will adopt this scope of practice changes into

their own laws to allow pharmacy technicians to continue to vaccinate. The COVID pandemic is providing pharmacy tech- nicians an opportunity to demonstrate they are able to safely provide vaccines. Researchers will college evidence of the safety and efficiency of vaccines provided by pharmacy techni- cians; this data could be used to further many policy changes. It is essential, therefore, that the data demonstrate safety. This educational activity is designed to promote safety in tech- nician vaccinations on four levels: safety for the administering pharmacy technicians, safety for the patients, safety for the phar- macies where vaccines are provided, and safety for the public.


PPE Pharmacy technicians and all members of a healthcare team focus on the safety of their patients, which is an intrinsic com- ponent of professionalism. Equal attention must be placed on personal safety. In fact, it is essential that every member of a health care team is confident in refusing to place themselves in jeopardy. Pharmacy technicians should consider how to protect themselves when administering vaccines, particularly vaccines given by injection. Gloves must be worn when there is a potential for exposure to someone else’s blood. It is well known that repeated exposure to latex can lead to a latex sen- sitivity; therefore, non-latex gloves are recommended. Gloves should fit tight against the skin but should not impair movement of the fingers. Furthermore, gloves should not be so tight as to leave an imprint at the wrist. Pharmacy technicians should learn to properly doff, or remove, gloves. Pharmacy technicians must learn to protect themselves from a blood exposure, as a tech- nician who properly wears gloves can still be exposed if those gloves are removed incorrectly. The State of Minnesota has prepared a video demonstrating how to properly doff gloves; it is available at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xueBYfElFEg. When giving most vaccinations, a pharmacy technician does not need to wear a protective mask or eye shield. A mask or eye shield should be chosen when there is a wide-spread respi- ratory disease in the community, such as influenza, pertussis, measles, or SARS-CoV-2. This personal protective equipment (PPE) will protect the vaccine administrator in case a nearby patient coughs or sneezes. Remember, whether a phar- macy technician is only wearing gloves or is wearing gloves and additional PPE, hands should always be washed or hand sanitizer should be used before donning (putting on) PPE. If hands are visibly dirty, they must be washed under running water using soap; hand sanitizer is NOT appropriate for remov- ing visible soiling. When doffing (removing) PPE, use a gloved hand to remove the mask or face shield, then properly doff gloves and wash hands or use hand sanitizer. If gloves are not available to provide protection, the pharmacy technician should refuse to provide the vaccine. In special circumstances,

a pharmacy technician may have a need for additional protec - tion. These circumstances may include treating a patient with a chronic illness, cancer chemotherapy, radiation therapy, or other immune suppression. In these cases, the pharmacy tech- nician will be asked to wear additional PPE for self-protection. Furthermore, routine vaccines can be safely administered by a pregnant pharmacy technician. Normal precautions are sufficient to protect the pregnant technician who is admin- istering a vaccine. Some vaccines should not be given to a pregnant patient; however, other than the smallpox vac- cine, those same precautions do not extend to the vaccinator. SHARPS CONTAINERS In addition to personal protective equipment, the other essential tool for pharmacy technician safety is an appropriate sharps con - tainer. An appropriate sharps container is a sharps container that: • Is clearly labeled as a sharps container • Is within easy reach following the administration of a vaccine • Has sufficient remaining space to contain a used syringe and needle. When reviewing breaches in vaccination safety protocol, fail- ure to correctly use a sharps container is the leading cause of injury to members of a health care team. To guarantee that no attempt is made to recap a needle, when the needle cover is removed, immediately throw it into the garbage. Following the injection, activate the safety device on the needle and place it into the sharps container before doing anything else. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) requires that all needles used to give vaccinations have safety devices to protect the administrator from exposure to a needle stick. The employer is responsible for guaranteeing that only safety needles are used in the facility. If immediate access to an appropriate sharps container is not available, or if a pharmacy technician is asked to vaccinate without safety needles, administering injectable vaccines should be refused.

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