In early September, as federal and state officials worked feverishly to finalize plans to distribute and administer an as-yet-unapproved COVID-19 vaccine, the National Community Pharmacists Association (NCPA) posted an urgent plea to its membership. Please sign up for your state's immunization reporting registry.
The NCPA's precise wording stated: "If you own or manage a pharmacy that offers immunizations, please contact your pharmacy management system vendor today and opt in to report vaccine information to the immunization information system (IIS; vaccine registry) for your state or public health jurisdiction. It's important for all vaccines, but it's going to be necessary for COVID-19 vaccines to ensure the same product is administered to complete the two-dose series. NCPA staff is hearing that public health planners are reluctant to include independent pharmacies in the plan for COVID-19 vaccine distribution because independents are not connected and don't report. NCPA members need to be part of the distribution plan from the start so patients at higher risk for severe complications of COVID-19 have access to the vaccine as soon as it is available."
Every state maintains an immunization information system (IIS), but regulations vary with regard to requirements for pharmacies to report immunization activity. In more than 30 states, IIS reporting is mandatory, while in others it is recommended. Reporting in late December by Drug Topics noted that reporting mandates are on the rise, as digital records increasingly help coordinate care among patients and their multiple health professionals. "People can access those registries and we can find out if somebody has gotten, say dose 2 of the 2-dose series," John Becker, RPh, senior director of strategic initiatives at NCPA said in the article.
But with regard to COVID-19 vaccine administration, state IIS reporting is mandatory. And with calls increasing for community pharmacists to play a larger role than initially anticipated, it's essential for pharmacies to understand IIS reporting requirements, and have the technology in place to ensure full compliance,
Pharmacy managers can rely on the PrimeRx™ pharmacy management system for this essential capability. PrimeRx™ offers direct integration with the Script Management Partners (SMP) automated immunization reporting solution, which offers seamless access to each state's immunization registry. Pharmacy users capture all required information within PrimeRx™, and that information is seamlessly transmitted via SMP to the appropriate state agency, within the 24-hour reporting window required for all COVID-19 immunizations.
The SMP solution also facilitates the onboarding process for pharmacies. Pharmacies must follow a multi-step process to receive accreditation as a COVID-19 vaccine administration site, and meet state-specific requirements. SMP helps pharmacies move through this process which, depending on the state in which the pharmacy is located, will take an average 2-4 weeks to complete.
The SMP solution is available to PrimeRx™ users for an annual subscription fee of $99. Interested PrimeRx™ pharmacies can start the process by sending an email to SMP at either: email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org. The following information should be included in that email:
Pharmacy address, city, state, and zip code
Contact name/phone number/email address
Script Management Partners developed its automated immunization reporting solution well before the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic. At the time of its introduction, the system helped track patient immunization records for influenza, shingles, hepatitis, and tetanus, among other common vaccines. But now the solution is on track to play a critical role in helping to manage the nationwide administration of COVID-19 vaccines, an essential step in finally ending the pandemic.