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Behind the scenes look at how vaccine clinics operate, get compensated

One vaccine clinic operator wants to reassure people the process is safe
Behind the scenes look at how vaccine clinics operate, get compensated
Posted at 5:14 PM, Apr 20, 2021
and last updated 2021-04-20 20:54:51-04

PUEBLO — The operators of a local vaccine clinic say they want to be as transparent as possible to reassure people in the vaccination process. They walk News 5 through what they say they do to keep you safe, and what they get in return for that work.

It comes after the news of the Colorado Springs vaccine clinic reportedly mishandling thousands of doses.

Jeanette Burns keeps a lot of records. It’s all part of her responsibilities as a COVID-19 vaccine provider at her family business, J&B Pharmacy.

“It’s not an easy process and it’s not easy to do everyday,” Burns said.

But it’s a process she wants to be transparent about.

First, she says she had to register to become a vaccine provider.

“The state is where it starts,” Burns said.

She says she went through required online courses, and proved she had the right freezers and storage facilities, and that her staff meets all the qualifications to give out vaccines.

“It’s all a part of what we call accreditation, like we go through with any insurance company,” she said. “You kind of go through the same thing for the state.”

She says it’s up to vaccine providers to let the state know how many doses they can give out.

“You make the decision,” she said. “And it’s a learning process to begin with. We started with a very slow amount.”

The doses arrive in chilled boxes. In the case of Pfizer vaccines, they’re packed in dry ice.

She says she immediately puts her doses into her freezer when they arrive.

“Our temperature right now is at -20,” she said.

That’s because she administers Moderna vaccines. Pfizer vaccines must be kept at a colder temperature.

And she keeps tabs on the freezer. She says she logs the freezer’s temperature when she arrives in the morning and leaves in the evening.

She says the vaccines stay in the freezer until no sooner than 7 days before they’ll be given. For Pfizer vaccines, that timeline is shorter, only five days.

At that point, she says they stay at a refrigerated temperature until shortly before they’re administered.

She says her pharmacy only sets out a vaccine once they know the patient has shown up.

“Because once it’s drawn up into a syringe, it has to be used within six hours,” Burns said.

She sets aside Tuesdays just to get everyone scheduled for the week.

“Myself and my staff, yeah we work 10 hour days,” she said.

But what does she get in return?

“If a person has insurance, we can bill their insurance for an administration fee,” she said.

If a patient has medicaid, vaccine providers can bill medicaid for a reimbursement.

“And if they’re not insured, there is an uninsured program out there that the government is letting us bill for that as well,” she said.

The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment confirmed to News 5 it does not provide funding for vaccine clinics. All funds come from the federal level.

Burns says she understands some people are weary of vaccines after recent news, and she welcomes anyone with questions to come take a tour of how she stores her vaccines.