The TGA and ATAGI recently approved the use of Pfizer as a booster dose for individuals aged 18 and over. It has been recommended that booster doses be administered at least six months after a patient received their second dose of any COVID-19 vaccines registered for use in Australia.
With this approval, we ask ourselves the all-important question, How do I prepare my practice for booster shots?
This article acts as a guide to help prepare you for the next phase of the COVID-19 vaccine rollout.
Utilising your practice data
I’m sure we can all agree that rolling out the COVID-19 vaccine has been no easy feat! However, with the recent announcement, it seems as though General Practice will not be slowing down anytime soon.
As we enter the next phase of the COVID-19 vaccine rollout strategy, and Australia slowly starts opening back up to the world. We’ll see an increase in patients coming to General Practice to receive their booster dose.
To help General Practice prepare for the influx of patients, I recommend utilising your practice data to help you identify:
- The number of patients in your practice who have not received any vaccine so that you can ensure that these patients can get access to initial vaccinations
- Patients who are overdue for their second dose
- Patients who are eligible to receive their booster dose
You can do this by running reports from your practice management system, looking at the patients billing history to determine whether they’ve received a COVID-19 vaccine or not. We recommend running a report to look for patients who had a second dose billed at a minimum of 6 months ago to help determine their booster dose eligibility.
Running these reports to generate this information can be time-consuming. Cubiko’s Vaccination Support cabinet provides you with the metrics and data to help you gain insight into your patient cohort’s vaccination status, helping you determine patient eligibility for the COVID-19 booster dose.
Managing your vaccine supply
With Pfizer being approved as a booster dose for patients aged 18 and over, it’s essential that you’re managing your supply effectively. It is important to note that at present, there will be no changes to the vaccine supply for practices rolling out the booster dose. Therefore, you must ensure your practice has a sufficient supply of the COVID-19 vaccine to initially vaccinate patients who have not received their first or second dose, as this remains a priority before rolling out the booster doses in your practice.
How you roll out the booster dose may differ from practice to practice.
Some may wait until a certain percentage of their patient cohort is vaccinated before rolling out the booster doses in their practice. Thus, ensuring that patients who have not received a first or second dose have the opportunity to receive their initial vaccine. However, determining your patient cohort vaccination rate may be difficult as some patients may have received their vaccine from other clinics or vaccination hubs, which may not be recorded in the patients’ file.
Other clinics may opt to start rolling out booster doses within their practice regardless of the percentage of vaccinated patients in their clinic. In this instance, I recommend ensuring you look at your appointment book to determine how many patients you have booked in to receive their initial COVID-19 vaccine doses before booking patients in to receive a booster dose. This helps ensure that you’re prioritising patients who are yet to receive both initial doses of the COVID-19 vaccine while effectively managing your vaccine supply during the booster dose rollout.
Interested in learning more about how you can use Cubiko to rollout the booster dose in your practice?
Impacts to staff
There’s no doubt that the COVID-19 vaccine rollout has been difficult for General Practice. From the lack of support, you’ve received, dealing with abusive patients to losing staff to hospitals and vaccine hubs.
The past few months haven’t been easy, and unfortunately, we aren’t quite at the end of the road just yet. Now more than ever do you need to evaluate the impacts of the COVID-19 vaccine in your practice. And how this ultimately affects your staff.
We know you are tired, and we know you are stressed. The national vaccine rollout is taking its toll on our health care workers. Therefore, you must have strategies in place to look after your and your staff’s mental well-being during these stressful times.