Tacoma pharmacist: Redundant reporting of COVID-19 vaccines to the state and feds getting in the way of getting shots in arms

TACOMA, Wash. — For the last month and a half, pharmacist Ted Perillo at Lincoln Pharmacy in Tacoma has been doing his part to get people vaccinated for the coronavirus.

At this Sunday’s clinic, he was focused on trying to reach some of the most vulnerable who don’t have access to technology.

Now, he worries that a new requirement by the CDC will prevent him from getting more people vaccinated.

“It’s going to be a definite slowdown in the process,” Perillo said.

When the goal is to get shots in as many arms as possible, a slowdown is the last thing he wants.

His pharmacy has been following state guidelines and documenting every shot given on the day to the Washington State Immunization Information System.

“Now we got notice last week that the CDC wants us to enter the exact same information into their website,” Perillo added.

It’s another frustrating hoop to jump through in what’s already been a rocky process.

“Obviously the more time we spend on paperwork and documentation, the less time you get to spend on actually giving vaccinations. We think the CDC could pull this information from the state of Washington,” he explained.

KIRO 7 asked the State Department of Health about the issue.

“I understand the individual pharmacist’s frustration, but I can also recognize that this is what’s needed in order for us to be able to keep track of these precious therapeutics that all of us don’t want any dose to go to waste. That said, we’re also working behind the scenes to streamline those processes,” Health Secretary Dr. Umair Shah said.

Perillo’s frustration isn’t with the state. Currently, his pharmacy is vaccinating about 400 to 500 people weekly. Once there’s more supply, he thinks he can double his capacity. But he worries the CDC’s new requirement could get in the way of that.

“Pharmacies have been giving vaccinations for over 20 years. This isn’t reinventing the wheel,” he said. “The local pharmacists just need the support from the CDC to get the shots in the arm.”