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What to Know About the Safety of the COVID-19 Vaccine. By Our Student Pharmacist, Sam Berens.

 

Safety of the COVID-19 vaccine has been an issue for many people. While I understand the fear, clinical trials were conducted that help evaluate the safety and effectiveness of the vaccine. Many thousands of study participants of varying demographics went through the trial to approve the COVID-19 vaccine. Even after the vaccine went public, there are vaccine safety monitoring systems that help watch for side effects, and if there is an unexpected side effect seen, experts quickly study it to find out if it is an actual safety concern. The constant monitoring is there to ensure that the benefits of the vaccine continue to outweigh risks for the public.

There is also a new smartphone application called v-safe that helps to provide health check-ins after you receive the COVID-19 vaccination. This application allows you to quickly tell the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) if you have any side effects after getting the vaccine and depending on your answers, the CDC will promptly call you to get more information to keep you safe. V-safe also helps to remind you to get your second vaccine.

Reports have noted that some people have experienced allergic reactions to the COVID-19 vaccine. These reactions will likely not happen to most people and you will be asked multiple questions about allergic reactions to vaccine-related substances before receiving the vaccine to help rule out potential reactions.

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If you do have an allergic reaction, there will be medical professionals with you to provide rapid medical care. Those who receive the vaccine will be monitored for at least 15 minutes and those who have had an immediate allergic reaction to a vaccine in the past will be monitored for at least 30 minutes to assure the safety of everyone.

There are also reports of several common side effects after receiving the COVID-19 vaccine. None of these side effects are a concern to your health and safety. On the arm where you got the shot, there could be some pain and/or swelling near the injection site. To reduce pain and discomfort if this does happen to you, talk to us about using an over-the-counter pain reliever. It is also advised to apply a clean, cool, wet washcloth over the area and/or exercise the arm.

Other side effects that could occur include:

  • fever
  • tiredness
  • headache

If you experience these side effects, it is recommended to drink plenty of fluids.  These side effects should go within a few days if they do happen, so there is no need to worry.

Overall, the COVID-19 vaccine should not cause you any more stress than your recommended annual flu shot. We are here to provide you optimal healthcare and encourage everyone to get the vaccine.

And remember, we need about 70-80% of the population to receive the vaccine in order to protect those that can not or choose not to receive the vaccine, so we hope you will do your part to protect our community.

References: CDC.gov

Meet Our Second Student Pharmacist for January, Sam Berens.

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This month, we are also joined in the pharmacy by Sam Berens, a fourth-year pharmacy student from The Ohio State University’s College of Pharmacy.

Sam will graduate in May 2021 and will then take the test to become a registered pharmacist. Sam will be with us in Plain City, but besides working in the pharmacy, he will also be doing some special projects next door in the office with Joe. Please make him feel welcome if you see him in the store.

Here is what Sam tells us about himself:

My name is Sam Berens and I am a fourth year College of Pharmacy student at The Ohio State University.  I am currently a student pharmacist for the month of January at Plain City Druggist.

I was born and raised in Centerville, Ohio, which is a suburb in Dayton.  I also attended OSU as an undergrad where I received a Bachelor of Science in Pharmaceutical Science. 

I recently got married last month (December) and love spending time with my wife and our cat and dog.  Some of my favorite hobbies at home include exercising, watching tv, and cooking.  Most importantly, I just always feel a need to stay busy.

I always knew I wanted to pursue a career in the medical field, but it took me a while to figure out which career path was best for me.  I had not considered pharmacy as my career path until I got a job as a technician at Kroger pharmacy.  I enjoyed my work as a technician for two and half years until I started pharmacy school. 

In pharmacy school, I chose to pursue other aspects of pharmacy, so I got an internship at the James Cancer Hospital where I compound chemotherapy.  I have enjoyed learning the different career paths that pharmacy has to offer throughout school.

This last year of pharmacy school, I have had the opportunity to experience many other different types of pharmacy careers and due to the numerous other opportunities that are available, I am still trying to figure out what aspect of pharmacy best suits me.  In the end, I would just like to have a job that makes me happy to go to each day where I can focus on patient care and help everyone that I encounter. 

As a future pharmacist and healthcare professional, my primary focus will always be to help every patient as much as possible.  I have found that a lot of my family and friends do not know much about the rigorous schooling pharmacists have to go through, and therefore do not know what all a pharmacist is capable of in practice.  Pharmacists are the most accessible healthcare professionals and are always ready to help any patient in need.  It is my goal to make others understand our abilities so that everyone is provided optimal healthcare. 

Most people taking medications are often receiving multiple medications from various doctors.  This can cause issues because it is difficult for all the physicians to communicate with each other.  The common thread between all these prescribed medications is the pharmacist, so it is our job to make sure that what is being prescribed makes sense and is safe for our patients. 

It is my goal to continue furthering the field of pharmacy to better healthcare for everyone.

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Please Welcome Our January Student Pharmacist, Adam Storc, who will be in Plain City and West Jefferson.

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This month, we are joined in the pharmacy by Adam Storc, a fourth-year pharmacy student from The Ohio State University’s College of Pharmacy.

Adam will graduate in May 2021 and will then take the test to become a registered pharmacist. Adam will be with us in Plain City the last two weeks of the month and in West Jefferson at the beginning of January, so please stop by and meet him while he is in both locations.

Here is what Adam tells us about himself:

Hello. My name is Adam Storc, and I am a fourth-year pharmacy student at The Ohio State University. I am currently on my final year of practical experience rotations and will be spending the month of January at both Plain City Druggist and Happy Druggist in West Jefferson.

I attended The Ohio State University for my undergraduate degree and am currently pursuing my PharmD there as well. While in school, I’ve worked in retail pharmacy and telepharmacy.

On a personal note, I am the proud owner of both a hedgehog and a dog, and an avid reader and chef in my free time.

The reason I chose pharmacy as a career is not necessarily a glamourous one, but it is true and has worked out well for me so far. I do not come from a family in medicine, but rather a family of construction workers. My dad always wanted a better career for me, so I focused on school as a kid and looked towards healthcare as a potential option. The idea of pursuing pharmacy actually came as a suggestion from my father, because he heard about a friend’s son who went to work as a pharmacist in Alaska and knew that it was a stable, well-paying job. With that in mind, I started looking at colleges with pharmacy schools and didn’t think much further than that.

Over the next few years, however, my dad had a heart attack and was started on many medications that we were unfamiliar with. One day, he and I were shopping and swung by the pharmacy, and the pharmacist very politely told us he wouldn’t fill my dad’s medications. We asked why and, long story short, the doctor had written for medications that interacted and the pharmacist had to reach out to the doctor to fix the problem. Seeing the pharmacist’s knowledge actually have a personal impact on my family is what made the choice of pharmacy clearer to me.

My plans on my career as a pharmacist currently are leaning towards additional training through two years of residency experience. I would like to specialize in pain management/palliative care or ambulatory care pharmacy and to stay in the Columbus area, if possible.

Both of these specialties allow me to apply my knowledge to customize medication regimens in order to best suit patients. Eventually, I see myself  working in a hospital or smaller clinic and, perhaps one day, teaching/precepting pharmacy students at OSU in a few years.

Amazon or Your Local Pharmacy? By Our Student Pharmacist, Sandy Saleh.

During the holidays, it is very tempting to use online shopping for gifts due to the comfort and convenience of being able to stay in your home while purchases “magically” show up at your doorstep. COVID has also encouraged everyone to stay at home and use these services.

Convenience is always a plus in any type of setting, but convenience does come with downsides.

Prices may not always be what they appear due to shipping costs and other hidden fees.

Some websites like Amazon require a membership that they auto renew yearly with increased costs. It is also a hassle to get your money back for any returns that you might need to make, and returning items is a trip in itself.

These might not seem like too big of a deal, but purchasing items online also has a huge negative impact on your community.
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Small businesses and even other local shops help your local community grow. Most small businesses actually donate to your community often because these small businesses are usually owned by people who live in your area.

The business owners also pay the same taxes you do, allowing for more money to go to support your local schools, parks, fire and police departments. Amazon may charge you for taxes, but those taxes do not come back to your community.

Amazon is not all bad. There are plenty of items on the site that cannot be found locally and it’s worth using when there is not a source for a particular item in your area. Just check out your local shops first for common goods to help out your own community.

pharmacy indAmazon has also recently entered the pharmacy business promising customers lower costs on drugs. For the most part, prescription costs are actually fixed by your insurance company and there is a high chance that the prescription cost through Amazon is the same prescription cost at your local pharmacy.

Amazon requires an actual prescription sent to them before they can give you any drug costs without insurance. They offer two day prescription delivery with other purchases which may sound appealing, but most local pharmacies offer same day delivery!

While Amazon allows you to speak to a pharmacist, the interaction is over the phone and nothing beats speaking to a pharmacist in person for all your healthcare needs.

Local pharmacies also offer in person services like vaccines, blood pressure monitoring, and sugar measurements that can help the pharmacist view your health and medications at a personal level. Amazon claims they offer drug cost transparency, but you can always ask your local pharmacist those same questions.

Shopping and getting prescriptions in your own community benefits you, as well!

Using the same local pharmacy allows a patient to get to know their pharmacist. Knowing the pharmacist allows for higher quality healthcare. There is so much a pharmacist can do for a patient including speaking to the patient’s doctor to get any drug changes that are needed and helping monitor chronic healthcare needs.

When your pharmacist gets to know you well, it is easier for them to resolve any problems you might run in to on prescriptions. That goes for shopping at local stores as well! Getting to know your local community members adds to your network when you need any help with day to day things.

Before shopping online, make sure to check out your community businesses first! Most of them also deliver or ship directly to you.

 

Forget to Take Your Meds? Here are some Tips that Can Help. By Our Student Pharmacist, Sarwar Ghani.

What is medication adherence?

Medication adherence and medication compliance are two terms that we often hear about in healthcare.

Adherence usually refers to filling a new prescription or refilling prescriptions on time. Compliance means taking the medications regularly as prescribed. The terms, however, are often used interchangeably. To be adherent/compliant means that the patient is taking their medication regularly and as prescribed.

Medication adherence is a very important part of managing chronic conditions.

Why is medication adherence important?

Research has shown that improving medication adherence may have a greater influence on the health of our population than in the discovery of any new therapy. Treatment of a chronic disease requires long term treatment with medications. While these medications are effective to help with the disease progression, adherence is crucial to get their full benefit.

Studies have shown that almost 50% of adults in the US are non-adherent to medication and over 10% of hospital and nursing home admissions are due to non-adherence to medications for chronic conditions such as diabetes and hypertension. An article published in 2018 states that non-adherence can account for up to 50% of treatment failures or around 125,000 deaths and up to 25% of hospitalizations each year in the United States.

A report from the World Health Organization states, “Medicines will not be effective if patients do not follow prescribed treatment, yet in developed countries only 50% of patients who suffer from chronic diseases adhere to treatment recommendations. In developing countries, when taken together with poor access to health care, lack of appropriate diagnosis and limited access to medicines, poor adherence is threatening to render futile any effort to tackle chronic conditions.”

Poor adherence can result in avoidable consequences such as:

  • reduced functional abilities and quality of life
  • unnecessary disease progression
  • additional medical costs
  • increased physician visits

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What is the reason for non-adherence?

A survey conducted in 2019 identified the following as top reasons for medication non-adherence:

  • access to a pharmacy
  • price of medications
  • ability to track refills
  • fear of side effects
  • belief that the medication is not beneficial
  • patient has “too many pills” to take

Adherence is a complex issue. There are a lot of external factors that can impact medication adherence. Ideally, any patient who is adherent to their medication 80% or more is considered to be adherent.

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How to improve medication adherence?

Given the complex nature of the problem, there is no one correct answer to this question. Each patient may be facing a different issue which is preventing them from medication adherence. Following are some options that can be utilized to help with adherence.

  • Talk to your health care provider. If you are worried about side effects or the costs of your medications or if you feel like the frequency of the dosing is challenging for you, discuss your concerns with your doctor or pharmacist. Your healthcare team may be able to provide coupons or switch you to other agents that may be better suited for you.
  • Use reminder tools to help you remember. If you have a lot of pills to take at different times throughout the day or generally forget to take your medication, you would benefit from using a reminder tool. Some commonly used methods are:
    • setting an alarm for each time you need to take a medication.
    • keeping your pill bottles in areas where you are usually at during those times.
    • using a pill box to have your medications sorted by the time of the day.
  • Keep an updated list of medications with the dosing instruction. Most pharmacies now offer medication reconciliation. Utilize this service to obtain an updated list of your medications. You can use the list to make sure you are taking all the medications you are prescribed. Take the list with you to every doctor’s appointment and request the doctor’s office provide you with an updated list if they change anything.
  • Get all you medications at one pharmacy. Using one pharmacy will help with your adherence and also allow the pharmacist to better understand your medication regimen to provide a better service. You can also use the pharmacy’s medication synchronization program so that you make the least possible trips to pick up your medications.

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These are just some options that can be utilized to help with medication adherence. If you are struggling with your medication regimen, it is highly recommended that you share your concerns with your doctor or pharmacist to figure out a reasonable solution to help ease your concerns and also improve the management of your condition.

References:

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/27079345/

https://www.fda.gov/consumers/consumer-updates/are-you-taking-medication-prescribed

https://www.uspharmacist.com/article/medication-adherence-the-elephant-in-the-room

https://blog.cureatr.com/medication-adherence-vs-compliance-4-ways-they-differ

https://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/volumes/66/wr/mm6645a2.htm

https://www.who.int/chp/knowledge/publications/adherence_report/en/