Local pharmacists get certified to give immunizations as COVID-19 vaccine rollout begins

NOW: Local pharmacists get certified to give immunizations as COVID-19 vaccine rollout begins

MEQUON, Wis. (CBS 58) -- Some pharmacists are stepping up to become part of the solution during the COVID-19 vaccine rollout, and one professor at Concordia University hopes to help them do just that. On Wednesday, Dec. 16, the university offered a class for existing pharmacists to become certified in giving immunizations.

Pharmacists who can immunize are now in high demand, national pharmacy chains like CVS are hiring positions right now listed for “Covid-19 Vaccine Support” in the Milwaukee area.  

“It’s a really huge undertaking because you know, it’s being rolled out so quickly,” said Sarah Ray, associate professor and pharmacy practice chair at Concordia University.

Ray says pharmacists are being asked to get ready to start immunizing people. The immunization certification class she offered on Wednesday was not planned.

“Two pharmacists called saying I have a job offer, I need to be able to give immunizations, but I don’t have that certification. You’re a school of pharmacy, can you help me?” Ray says.

Ray knew she wanted to help, most of the people in her Wednesday class already graduated from pharmacy school before pharmacists were allowed to immunize people.

“In all of these cases, these pharmacists are interested in helping during the COVID-19 pandemic and helping to immunize patients and really want to be a part of the solution,” she added.

Betsy Hoida has been a pharmacist since 2006. She left and decided to go back to work now because she wanted to be part of ending the pandemic.

“I mean the vaccine is coming out right now, it’s perfect timing,” said Hoida, who took Ray’s immunization certification class.

This time, Hoida was required to be certified in immunizations before coming back to work.

“I did a residency, I got board certified, I did all this education but now to really use it on a daily basis will be huge for me,” Hoida says.

State health officials said Wednesday, a partnership between the CDC and pharmacies could have COVID-19 vaccines delivered to long-term care facilities by the end of December.

“I have a lot of elderly friends and they’re just really excited that I’m going to be doing this and they feel comfortable getting the vaccine from me,” said Hoida.

Ray says the willingness of these pharmacists is nothing short of inspiring.

“It’s looking beyond themselves and thinking—how can I help?” Ray said.

The vaccine rollout comes in the midst of hospital surges and overwhelmed health care systems. Ray hopes having the pharmacists be able to do immunizations will only help to alleviate the burden.

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