Importance of trained healthcare professionals
A large number of healthcare professionals are needed to support COVID-19 vaccination efforts nationwide. These healthcare professionals are essential to ensuring the American population is vaccinated safely as soon as possible. They play critical roles in proper vaccine storage, handling, preparation, and administration, and they must be prepared to respond to vaccine recipients’ questions and concerns. It is important these healthcare professionals receive the training needed to effectively meet the demands of their roles. Training must be ongoing as new COVID-19 vaccines become available and as vaccine recommendations evolve when we learn more about the vaccines and how to improve the vaccination process
Who needs to be trained
A variety of healthcare professionals and personnel will be needed to implement COVID-19 vaccination efforts. These include:
- Experienced vaccinators
- Vaccinators who have not administered vaccines in the past 12 months or longer
- Medical support staff (not licensed to administer vaccines but can assist with vaccine preparation and cold chain management)
- Administrative support staff (can assist with cold chain management, data reporting, and distribution of required materials to vaccine recipients)
A Training is important not only for those who will prepare and administer vaccine, but also for those responsible for other critical, mandatory functions, including protecting the vaccine cold chain, inputting required data, and ensuring vaccine recipients receive documentation of vaccination.
It is critical that healthcare professionals and personnel are familiar with the specific COVID-19 vaccine product(s) in their facility’s inventory. Guidance for vaccine storage, handling, preparation, and administration may differ for each vaccine product. Therefore, all healthcare staff members need training in COVID-19 vaccination even if they are already administering routinely recommended vaccines. While many practices are the same for all vaccines, whenever a new vaccine is introduced to the U.S. market, there are nuances that healthcare professionals must become familiar with to ensure the vaccine is stored, handled, prepared, and administered correctly.
Vaccine manufacturers, CDC, other federal entities, public health agencies, and professional organizations provide a variety of training resources, including print materials, training modules, webinars, seminars, and videos. For healthcare professionals who will be preparing and administering vaccine, it is essential that training programs also include an observation component and competency assessment. The following sections describe trainings and competencies healthcare professionals need based on their roles and experience to ensure the vaccine cold chain is protected and vaccines are administered safely to recipients.