The Grand River Hospital (GRH) clinic was Waterloo Region’s first vaccine clinic. Alumnus Daniel Pereira (Rx2015, right) has been there since day one, overseeing the pharmacy team and their processes to ensure the clinic runs smoothly.
“I was involved in the planning and implementation of the original GRH clinic,” says Daniel, who is a pharmacist and Clinical Practice Coordinator with Grand River Hospital. “This clinic was pivotal for our region because it allowed us to support the development of other clinics – both permanent and mobile – by sharing our procedures and experiences.”
Daniel provided clinic tours and answered questions for various teams responsible for setting up other Region of Waterloo Public Health vaccine clinics. He also worked on developing and refining standards of work for receiving, tracking, transporting, handling and preparing Pfizer and Moderna vaccines. The GRH clinic started by offering the Pfizer vaccine, which came with its own unique considerations. The Pfizer vaccine had to be stored in -80 degrees Celsius freezers and had to be thawed and diluted within 2 hours of removal from the freezer into room temperature conditions.
“Since the start of the rollout, I have sat on several regional committees to provide input on vaccine logistics. These discussions range from receiving and preparing the vaccine to strategically distributing it across various clinic modalities in the Region to vaccinate the Public as quickly as possible,” he says. “We knew it didn’t make sense to reinvent the wheel on best practices, so we collaborated to ensure consistent preparation and immunization practices across all of the region’s clinics.”
When the decision was made to open a vaccine clinic on the University of Waterloo Health Sciences Campus (HSC), team members for that clinic visited Daniel and learned how to work with the Pfizer vaccine.
“Pfizer is a tricky vaccine to work with,” says Nancy Waite, a pharmacy professor who coordinated the training of the HSC Clinic’s pharmacy team. “We’re grateful to Daniel and his team for the opportunity to learn how to work with this vaccine prior to the HSC clinic’s opening. Seeing an alum of our program so involved providing leadership for our region’s vaccine campaign filled us with pride.”
As the vaccine supply for Waterloo Region grew, the GRH clinic was closed to make way for the larger clinic at on Pinebush Road in Cambridge. The Pinebush site is also run by GRH staff, and Daniel Pereira is the Pharmacy Lead.
As such, Daniel’s responsible for continuing to update clinic processes to reflect the latest Health Canada and Ministry of Health guidelines. He hires, schedules and coordinates pharmacy staff training and answers questions for both clients and other health-care team members at the clinic. In May, when pharmacies in the region were allowed to offer the Pfizer vaccine, Daniel and his team stepped up and offered training on very short notice so that local pharmacy teams had a chance to learn how to work with Pfizer.
“For me, providing training and support to allow clinics and pharmacies to safely and effectively vaccinate the public as quickly as possible is so important,” he says. “It makes sense to share our experiences as a foundation for our colleagues in the community so we can end this pandemic together.”
As situations evolve and scientists learn more about the vaccines, guidelines continue to change. Adapting to logistical changes has been the biggest challenge for Daniel and his team. Since opening the GRH clinic on December 22, 2020, the team has weathered unpredictable vaccine deliveries, changing intervals between doses, varying prioritizations of who can get the shot, and more.
“I’m proud of the work we’ve done to continually adapt to any change that’s come our way,” he says.