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Infectious Diseases Pharmacist Heads COVID-19 Vaccination Clinic

Expert Interview

Kaitlyn Rivard, PharmD, infectious diseases clinical pharmacist at the Cleveland Clinic, spoke to Drug Topics about her role in getting their COVID-19 vaccination clinics off the ground.

Drug Topics®: Hi I’m Gabrielle Ientile with Drug Topics.

In this interview, I’ll be speaking to Kaitlyn Rivard, PharmD, infectious diseases clinical pharmacist at the Cleveland Clinic in Ohio. Kaitlyn has been instrumental in getting their COVID-19 vaccination clinics off the ground, and in our interview, she’ll be discussing some key insights, advice and experience in developing an effective COVID-19 vaccination program.

So to start, Kaitlyn, can you give us a little bit of your background as a pharmacist and your work at the Cleveland Clinic prior to the pandemic?

Rivard: Sure. My name is Katie Rivard, and I am an infectious diseases trained pharmacist here at the Cleveland Clinic. I did my pharmacy school training at Ferris State University in Big Rapids, Michigan, my first year of residency in Grand Rapids, Michigan, and then my second year of residency specializing in infectious diseases here at the clinic.

And then I stayed on, primarily in the role of the pediatric infectious diseases pharmacist. Part of that role was helping to manage vaccinations for the health system in terms of which vaccines clinically are most appropriate to use, when do we use them. Helping to advocate for vaccine coverage on insurance companies and those types of things.

So when we began to experience the COVID-19 pandemic, I was somewhat protected from it because children are less affected by COVID than adults. My colleagues in adult infectious disease really took on the majority of the work with COVID therapeutics.

But then in the Fall, when vaccines became available, it kind of fit naturally into the work that I had been doing. And since I wasn't doing COVID therapeutics planning, I had the room on my plate to take on the vaccines. And that's kind of how I ended up in this role.

Drug Topics®: Awesome. So can you speak a little bit to that role? How are you working - I know, you started in November, with these clinics. How has your role changed? And what are you currently working on with these COVID vaccinations?

Rivard: Sure. So when I was first asked to be the Cleveland Clinic COVID-19 vaccine coordinator, I don't think any of us knew quite what that meant.

Initially, my role was to really engage with the Ohio Department of Health and get Cleveland Clinic registered as a vaccine provider. There was a lot of specific information about our patient populations, our health care provider populations, our storage capacity that we had to submit to Ohio Department of Health, and a lot of training we had to do to make sure that when product was available, that we were able to appropriately handle it to avoid any waste exploration, anything like that.

That was kind of my original role, was just onboarding us with the Ohio Department of Health, understanding the rules and regulations of what will it be expected to do from kind of all elements of the vaccine.

And then as that's progressed, there are certain elements of the COVID vaccine process that really are not in my wheelhouse, such as building the schedule, the kind of building the orders. But I've really been involved in all of those meetings because of the particularly challenging aspects of the vaccines, such as the 6-hour expiration time, the multidose vials, so I’m kind of always there in the background to be the angel on the shoulder, reminding them of the various aspects of the vaccine that kind of would result in us having to change our scheduling or other workflows.

Drug Topics®: And I apologize for not knowing exactly what your role is, but have you been doing any COVID vaccinations as well?

Rivard: So I am not doing any actual vaccine administering to patients or health care providers.

My role is really to support the operations of the clinics, so making sure that the vaccine is arriving on time, that the nurses and other health care workers who are preparing the doses into the syringes are doing it correctly and labeling them correctly.

Making sure that we have standard work at each site. So that way, anyone who was doing the dose preparation is doing it correctly, all those kinds of quality control pieces. But certainly, we have coordinated having pharmacists at those vaccination clinics to administer the vaccine. We do have our pharmacy workforce contributing in that way, just not me specifically.

For more of Kaitlyn Rivard’s interview, check back to our Expert Interviews section on DrugTopics.com.

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