North Dakota State University’s Center for Collaboration and Advancement in Pharmacy (CAP) has implemented vaccine champions, or “VaxChamps”, which have been successful at increasing vaccination rates in North Dakota.
This model identifies and trains a nurse to serve as the vaccine expert at the clinic. The CAP team adapted this model to fit the community pharmacy setting by training pharmacy technicians to serve as their pharmacies’ VaxChamps.
Six pilot sites in North Dakota enrolled in the VaxChamp program. Each site identified one technician to serve as VaxChamp. After completing online training modules (materials available for free and linked below), VaxChamps dedicated five hours per week to immunization-related work while serving as the pharmacy’s vaccine expert. Work included proactively screening and identifying vaccine eligible patients, ensuring proper vaccine storage and handling, administering immunizations, and billing and reporting vaccine administrations. Coaching calls held every 1-3 months provided ongoing support and a chance for VaxChamps to share ideas across sites.
VaxChamps and Pharmacists-in-Charge (PICs) completed pre-post surveys to assess pharmacy site characteristics, the number of immunizations administered, and technician job satisfaction. VaxChamps participated in individual semi-structured interviews when the project began; throughout the pilot, they reported their activities and quantity of vaccinations administered monthly. Both VaxChamps and PICs participated in exit interviews to supplement the pre-post surveys and to reflect on their experiences.
During interviews, VaxChamps and PICs identified lack of time as the main challenge for pharmacies hoping to play a significant role in increasing community vaccination rates. Still, all interviewees agreed pharmacy accessibility and strong patient relations made pharmacies essential community vaccinators. Interviews also revealed that even when technicians, including VaxChamps, are certified to immunize, they are not the pharmacy’s primary vaccine administrators. All interviewees agreed technicians can and should play a crucial role in supporting pharmacies’ vaccination services, even if not necessarily through vaccine administration. During an exit interview, one PIC expressed her support for technician involvement in vaccine administration by saying, “The more they [technicians] can do, the better!”
If you are interested in implementing a pharmacy VaxChamp program, the CAP Center would love to help! Please reach out via email: NDSU.CAPCenter@ndsu.edu.
The North Dakota State University CAP Center serves as a regional leader in development of programs that improve patient outcomes by advancing pharmacy practice. CAP Center projects lead to more collaborative relationships between pharmacists, public health, and other health professions. The CAP Center Core Principles serve as a national example for development of successful and sustainable interventions that improve patient care.