Branford Training Assists CT's Urgent Need to Qualify More COVID-19 Vaccinators
UCONN Professor of Pharmacy Practice Sean Jeffery demonstrates drawing vaccine from a vial into a needle for COVID-19 vaccination volunteer Robert Miniter, an EMT with Branford Fire Department, during an in-person training session on Feb. 12 at Branford Fire Headquarters. To meet the demand for innoculations, qualified health care professionals are being urged to sign up through the CT Dept. of Public Health for online training, testing and hands-on training. Pam Johnson/The Sound | Buy This Photo)
Branford firefighter/paramedic John Cudgma points a needle toward an injection practice pad during hands-on COVID-19 vaccinator training at Branford Fire Headquarters Feb. 12. Pam Johnson/The Sound | Buy This Photo)
Trainee Kathleen Moran locates the injection area on the arm of trainer Sean Jeffery during a session at Branford Fire Headquarters on Feb. 12. (Photo courtesy Sean Jeffery )
Branford firefighter paramedic Joe Massey goes through hands-on COVID-19 vaccinator instruction with UCONN School of Pharmacy student Amal Bittar on Feb. 12 during a training session at Branford Fire Headquarters. Pam Johnson/The Sound | Buy This Photo)
UCONN School of Pharmacy student Kevin Pham demonstrates practices used for COVID-19 immunization for volunteer vaccinator trainee John Cudgma, a Branford firefighter/paramedic, at Branford Fire Headquarters Feb. 12. Pam Johnson/The Sound | Buy This Photo)
Branford Fire Department (BFD) healthcare professionals are among those answering Connecticut's urgent call for volunteers to increase the pool of qualified COVID-19 vaccinators, as the state's phased immunization plan ramps up.
Qualified personnel can sign up now for online training, testing and then a hands-on training session like those rolling out this month at Branford Fire Headquarters, said Dr. Sean M. Jeffery, (PharmD, BCGP, FASCP, AGSF) who led a Feb. 12 session at the site. More sessions are set for Tues. Feb. 16 and Wed. Feb. 24 at Branford Fire Headquarters. Other sessions are available at locations across the shoreline and state; and will continue to be set up in the coming weeks as the training effort continues, said Jeffery.
A Branford resident, Jeffery is a Professor of Pharmacy Practice in the UCONN School of Pharmacy. Recently, faculty at the school assisted the state with pulling together the qualified health care provider COVID-19 vaccine training program that's now underway.
Through the school, CT pharmacists receive 21.5 hours of immunization training to provide all the vaccinations in the routine immunization schedule, said Jeffery.
"We're the only ones authorized to train pharmacists in Connecticut. We have probably one of the more robust training programs for vaccination, and as a result, the state's Department of Public Health reached out to the school and asked us if we were able to scale training programs for these other licensed individuals," said Jeffery. "So we quickly put together a program and launched that, and now we have been conducting the training. We have faculty that have fanned out to all corners to try to do the training for these individuals that are now part of the order."
On December 7, 2020, CT Dept. of Public Health (DPH) Acting Commissioner Deidre Gifford issued an order identifying additional healthcare professionals authorized to administer COVID-19 vaccines after completing training. They are podiatrists, dentists, dental hygienists with training to administer dental anesthesia, veterinarians, Advanced Emergency Medical Technicians (EMTs), EMTs who've completed approved CT DPH intramuscular epinephrine administration training, and paramedics.
At least 15 volunteers completed their training in person at Branford Fire Headquarters on Friday, Feb. 12. Jeffery and two UCONN School of Pharmacy students, Amal Bittar and Kevin Pham, showed trainees how to prepare needles to safely draw the correct dose of vaccine through the "bullseye" center on a vial cap, and practice administering the shot by locating the area on the trainer's arm as well as pressing the needle into a practice pad, among other hands-on training. Once trained, the volunteer vaccinators can administer the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines the state's currently providing.
In addition to training volunteers, Jeffery has been volunteering as a COVID-19 immunizer for CT DPH as part of a team innoculating residents assigned to get their shot at the vaccination site in the Hartford Convention Center.
"It's a pretty draining process. I was at the convention center Monday [Feb. 8] and we did 605 vaccinations – that's a lot of people," he said. "That's why we need to have as many in the eligible pool of vaccinators as possible, so that we can continue to cycle people in and out of the work force."
The demand to receive the vaccine is at a peak, as well, he said.
"There's a huge demand. At the end of each shift, we've got people that are waiting outside the convention center hoping that they can get a potential extra dose that we may have drawn up," said Jeffery. "There's concern. People really want to make sure they get their vaccine as soon as possible."
Jeffery said he hopes many more health care professionals allowed by the state order will join the ranks of those volunteers now becoming authorized to administer COVID-19 vaccinations.
"Sign up and get the training so you can be part of what are likely going to be part of the mass vaccination sites as they roll out; and part of the existing pool as people get tired and worn down," he said.
For more information on signing up for approved health care professional vaccination training programs, visit https://portal.ct.gov/DPH/Practitioner-Licensing--Investigations/PLIS/Approved-COVID-19-Vaccination-Training-Programs