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OPA COVID-19 Vaccines: January 25, 2021 Update

OPA Moving Through Phase 1B of the COVID-19 Vaccine Rollout and Vaccinator Requirements

January 25, 2021

Today marks the start of the next step of Governor DeWine’s plan for Phase 1B of the COVID-19 vaccine rollout. This next step will include Ohioans age 75 and above and individuals with a developmental or intellectual disability with certain conditions. Pharmacies will not vaccinate persons with disabilities, only individuals meeting the age requirement. Simultaneously, the local board of developmental disabilities will help coordinate vaccinations for patients with severe congenital, developmental or early-onset medical disorders. Approximately 2.2 million people are eligible to receive the vaccine within this phase. Additionally, the vaccine distribution has been limited across the country. This means that the rollout will take some time to complete.

               Currently, 1148 pharmacies are enrolled with ODH as vaccinators. Enrolled vaccinators are encouraged to maintain up-to-date contact information. This will allow for efficient notification for the next vaccine shipment if the pharmacy is chosen. Correct and current patient information is essential for pharmacies once the shipment is received. Pharmacies that have not enrolled as vaccinators with the state are encouraged to sign up using this link and this helpful enrollment checklist. NOTE: There has been some confusion on whether pharmacies can enroll with both state and federal allocation partners. The Governor’s office has directed OPA to urge pharmacies to sign up with both state and federal vaccine partners. This ensures that the state can consider all pharmacies in their allocation plans.  

               As Phase 1B goes into its second week of implementation, the Board of Pharmacy has urged pharmacists to be vigilant about cold storage requirements and plan to address any untoward vaccine temperature excursions. Three useful resources for temperature control are Vaccine Storage and Transport by the ODH, the Vaccine Storage and Handling Toolkit from the Centers for Disease Control  Prevention, and a COVID-19 Vaccine Handling Toolkit by the United States Pharmacopeia. Pharmacies can incorporate these resources into their team’s standard operating procedures. A cold storage plan is especially crucial as ODH has notified vaccinators that due to the current limitation in vaccine supplies, locations without ultra-cold storage may be given the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine which is shipped in a thermal container with dry ice. ODH may supply this vaccine to a pharmacy without ultra-cold storage capabilities. If  the pharmacy receives such a shipment, they can follow this guidance on storing the vaccine in the thermal shipping container with dry ice.

               As pharmacies look ahead to further mobilization in vaccine efforts, here are a few additional updates. ODH continues to work on a statewide scheduling system with a tentative release time of early February. Additionally, they are working to identify the criteria for Phase 1C and Phase 2 of the vaccine rollout based on federal guidance.

               OPA is working diligently to facilitate communication between state decision-makers and member pharmacies. We want to thank you for all the questions received recently. OPA has created multiple COVID-19 resources, including a COVID-19 Vaccine Information Webpage, COVID-19 Testing Hub, and COVID-19 Resources Webpage, on the OPA website under the Resources drop-down box. Additionally, OPA members have offered their experience as a resource if any pharmacy needs assistance in signing up as vaccinators or have general COVID-19 vaccine-related questions. For further questions, please contact Myriam Shaw Ojeda at [email protected].

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