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February 5, 2021


Drug Topics®: So, today I'm speaking with Dr. Sara Revolinski and Professor Karen MacKinnon from the Medical College of Wisconsin (MCW) School of Pharmacy. Both Revolinski and Mackinnon have been integral in training MCW pharmacy students to administer coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) vaccines to patients. Dr. Revolinski, Professor MacKinnon, thank you so much for joining me today.

Mackinnon: Thank you for the invite.

Revolinski: Thank you.

Drug Topics®: So before we get into our topic, can you both introduce yourselves, your role at the pharmacy school, and your role amid the COVID-19 vaccine rollout as well?

Revolinski: Sure. So Hi, I'm Sara Revolinksi. I'm the director of experiential education and professional labs at the Medical College Wisconsin School of Pharmacy.

My role with students and immunizations is really trying to figure out how we teach students the vaccination process throughout the curriculum. So I oversee the course where the vaccine administration is taught to them, which is in our patient care lab series.

And then I also work with students in rotation sites where our students are out providing COVID-19 vaccinations to patients as well. So I'm much more involved in working with the clinical practice sites and the students on those sites to make sure that they're comfortable with the process and that they're being involved in the vaccination process in an appropriate way.

Drug Topics®: And Professor Mackinnon?

Mackinnon: Sure. Hello, my name is Professor Karen MacKinnon. I'm the director of outreach at the Medical College in the School of Pharmacy.

What I do normally is really a lot of professional development opportunities for our students and faculty. Historically, since I came on-board, I've always been what I would say is the flu champion for the School of Pharmacy, where we would have our students immunize each other as well as the faculty.

And within the School of Pharmacy this past year, we did 3 pilot clinics to highlight our opportunity for administering beyond the School of Pharmacy, but also within the Medical College of Wisconsin faculty and graduate school. We had held 3 clinics there, especially with COVID precautions, it was really good to try to determine what would be the best flow if we had the opportunity to vaccinate with the COVID Clinic.

So we took that opportunity and perfected some of our flow. And with the COVID Clinic at the Medical College, I am in charge of the clinic itself, where we would be utilizing the pharmacy faculty, our students, as well as others within the Medical College such as primarily our nursing and medical assistance.

Drug Topics®: Thank you both for your backgrounds. So I wanted to begin with the process of getting this program off the ground since this is an unprecedented situation. So MCW's program started with providing vaccines to health care workers within the college, and now includes those outside MCW as well. So when did MCW implement its vaccination site? And what was that process like?

Mackinnon: On December 21, we received the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine. On December 22, we admitted our first patients into the clinic. Our clinic was actually set up ready to go for 10 days. And on a daily basis, we ended up having to call off some of our volunteers or all of our volunteers because we didn't have the vaccine yet.

So that being said, we have a lot of encouragement and encouraging people that really wanted to really help out with this endeavor. So right from the get-go, we were able to have 10 stations where people would be able to be vaccinated. We can vaccinate 600 at any time, and in fact, last Thursday, we peaked doing 610 and Friday we did 596 vaccinations.

Drug Topics®: So how many pharmacy students are currently trained to give out the vaccine?

Mackinnon: Either of us could answer that. All of our second- and third-year pharmacy students through the direction of Dr. Revolinski, our students are taught within the patient care lab like she had mentioned earlier.

And within the state, we are trying to navigate being able to expand that to all of our pharmacy school students within the state. But that would obviously require additional training. like we have here, we use the APhA training program, which is 20 hours of instruction, which includes 8 hours of hands on education.

So that's our goal right now, where we are trying to change some of the legislation to allow us the capability to teach our students to vaccinate within the state of Wisconsin, because right now it says our students have to complete their second out of a 4-year curriculum. And our students are currently in a 3-year accelerated program.

Drug Topics®: And you mentioned that you are administering the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, do you plan to also expand to other vaccines? Moderna is authorized, but there's also some vaccines that are authorized in other countries that may soon be authorized here. I'm just interested in your thinking on that.

Mackinnon: Once a clinic site has received 1 type of the vaccine, that will be the only type that they would be receiving, so we don't anticipate receiving the Moderna or the Johnson & Johnson.

If we do more community outreach activities, which we are already doing some internal to the Milwaukee area, we would still have the Pfizer be our primary. If we end up going to other facilities to help administer, that's where we could be having other opportunities to administer other vaccines. The Johnson & Johnson's would be really good in the underserved areas, just because it's 1 shot versus 2, to try to increase adherence with 2 shots, it's a little bit more difficult.

Revolinski And I would say that, depending on the clinical practice sites, our students at all of our clinical practice sites are getting either Pfizer or Moderna at this point in time. So our students do have experience administering both of the vaccines or some of the students do, it just depends on what clinical practice site they're at and what vaccine they received from the state.

Mackinnon: Good point.

Drug Topics®: Yeah, that's really interesting. And many vaccination sites are also reporting experiencing either too little or having too much of doses. How have the delivery quantities been at your vaccination sites?

Mackinnon: Our current vaccination site at the Medical College has been receiving less than requested. But we still have had a good amount of vaccinations to accommodate our maximum threshold.

Drug Topics®: And so I'm also interested in how many first doses have been administered versus second doses if you're on second dose yet. If you have those numbers.

Mackinnon: I don't have those numbers, but I can get those for you.

Professor Mackinnon later noted that the MCW clinic, as of the time of our interview, administered a total of 5703 doses: 4101 first doses and 1602 second doses.

Drug Topics®: And does the college have a goal of how many they want to administer? Or is it more you're standing by and staying accessible for as long as it's needed to vaccinate Americans for COVID?

Mackinnon: We have never been told a maximum. We really just want our community to be protected. And so as much as we can be an asset for them, that would be our goal.

As I said or alluded to earlier is that we have been reaching out to the community through Healthier MKE, which is Healthier Milwaukee, where we assist on affiliated phase 1A practitioners to get vaccinated, as well as now we're going into the phase 1B, 65 or older, committee members to get vaccinated. So we do incorporate those outside members along with our MCW faculty and staff.

Check back to our Expert Interviews section on DrugTopics.com for part 2 of this interview.