Navigating Hiccups in The Vaccine Rollout
By late January, Scott Adamson of McCracken Pharmacy in Waynesburg, PA began administering the Moderna vaccine but by the time he was ready to give many patients their second dose, the supply of vaccines had dried up.
The process to become a vaccination location, as Adamson describes, is “long and intensive.” Not only did he have to file lots of paperwork, but he also had to create a scheduling system that would incorporate patients without internet access and somewhat alter the flow of his store.
McCracken Pharmacy was ready to go and registered with the department of health to administer the vaccine in January, but for the first couple weeks he didn’t receive the vaccine.
“Once we got to January, the commonwealth’s department of health’s website had us as a provider within the town,” Adamson said. “That was actually early in January, so we started receiving some phone calls not long after New Year’s. It was kind of interesting how that all went down. Really I was never alerted.”
“We actually received our first shipment in the third week of January, and we started administering Moderna.”
In the second week of January, McCracken was listed as having the vaccine, even though it hadn’t arrived at the pharmacy.
“We actually received our first shipment in the third week of January, and we started administering Moderna,” Adamson said.
When the vaccine arrived, Adamson was ready. He had the space and system put together to bring patients in safely and quickly.
Adamson said that his pharmacy already had multiple rooms, buildings even, to work with so they could have space for those coming in to get vaccinated. He also already had a space already set aside for vaccinations and other injectables.
The way his store is set up has allowed him to work with several patients at a time, and observe them, whether they stay inside or wait in their car for their 15-minute observation period.
Though his workflow has been smooth, there have recently been several vaccine shortages and he has had to move around appointments because of those shortages.
“Pennsylvania has been absolutely a disaster,” Adamson said. “It wasn’t my intention to be a phase one provider. My intention all along was to be involved in phase two.”
He had expected he would have been involved when the vaccine was available for most anyone and that he wouldn’t get started until sometime in March. Ultimately, he found it was good to be involved early.
Adamson came on board when the vaccine was made available to those 65 and over, then within a week it expanded it to anyone 16 and up who was considered high risk. Waiting lists swelled overnight and then some supply issues started.
“It was coming along quite well and then we had some bad midwestern storms and to worsen that situation there was a snafu where shots that were allocated to be second shots for individuals, they were given as first shots,” Adamson said. “That really threw a wrench into the works. The last three weeks have been trying to play catch up with supplies.”
Over a period of several weeks Adamson only received 100 doses. Many individuals waiting for their second dose have been pushed back to 42 days between shots.
“It’s been a very difficult February,” Adamson said.
Adamson also shared a concern that the lack of vaccines would make providers look bad as many, including himself, told patients to trust that a second dose would be available for them.
“We have a lot of infrastructure in place to do better than we’re doing, but we’re going to keep fighting the fight and we’re going to keep doing our surveys each week to get the vaccine and sooner or later this log jam will break,” Adamson said.
As the one-year mark passes for lockdowns in the U.S., Adamson also reflected on what changes would likely remain at his store, even after everyone is vaccinated.
Since COVID-19 hit the U.S. Adamson has removed things from lobby to increase space, and still has plexiglass barriers up.
“To be honest I’m probably going to keep it,” Adamson said about the barriers. “This is the one thing that does provide individuals a little bit of protection.”
Adamson also split staff in two to ensure store could continue operation if someone came down with COVID. That change is already gone and with his staff vaccinated he isn’t as concerned about an outbreak among staff.
And though his pharmacy may not go back to exactly the way it was before COVID-19, change is a part of pharmacy. McCracken Pharmacy for instance was started by Jack McCracken in 1961. In the 1970s it became one of first stores to have a computer system. The computer takes up a whole room and is still there today.
Adamson himself started working in a pharmacy chain. After 10 years there he joined McCracken in 2000, working for Jack’s son. After 13 years at McCracken, he became the owner.