Last updated on January 24, 2019
In the United States, approximately 50,000 adults die each year from vaccine-preventable diseases. The immunization shortfall has multiple causes, but health experts agree that leveraging “non-traditional sites of vaccination delivery” can help overcome barriers to care. Retail pharmacies play an important role in this effort. Between 2007 and 2013, the number of vaccinations dispensed by community pharmacies rose from 3.2 million to 20.9 million.
There’s room to grow: by November of 2017, only 38.5% of adults 18 and older had received a flu vaccine. The 2017/2018 flu season was the worst in a decade, which may encourage many people to get their flu shots early this year. Each injection produces sharps waste: syringes and often medication vials that must be safely collected, stored, transported, and treated. Pharmacies need to be ready to handle an influx of new patients – and the resulting challenge of safely managing their sharps waste.
Safe Sharps Waste Disposal
With the increased demand for immunizations, tests, and other services at community pharmacies, the resulting increased volume of sharps waste may catch some pharmacists off-guard.
All pharmacies that administer vaccines or medical tests should take steps to protect both staff and patients from the risk of needlesticks. For example, sharps safety training for employees must be provided annually and among other topics, should include the following:
- Evaluation and use of syringes and other sharps with safety features
- Selection of FDA-approved sharps containers placed as close as possible to the point of use
- Methods to prevent over-filled sharps containers
- Safe handling, packaging, and transport of sharps containers
The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health published a guideline for “Preventing Needlestick Injuries in Health Care Settings.” It notes that healthcare workers can help protect themselves and coworkers by disposing of used needles “promptly in appropriate sharps disposal containers.”
Sharps Disposal Options for Retail Pharmacies
Sharps Compliance offers mailback sharps disposal systems in multiple sizes and packaging configurations.
For a retail pharmacy, mailback disposal systems provide both flexibility and affordability as the systems are only returned once full. This prevents the pharmacy from paying for partially filled transport boxes. Once the sharps container is filled, it is packaged in the prepaid shipping box according to included instructions and mailed. During the height of flu season, we recommend pharmacies keep at least two sharps mailback systems on hand so that when the first is shipped, the second can be ready for use.
Sharps Compliance Mailback Containers: Convenient and Compliant
Our UPS and USPS-authorized sharps disposal mailback systems are uniquely serialized for cradle-to-grave tracking and are compliant with local, state, and federal regulations. Disposal systems are available individually or in cost-saving multipacks in sizes ranging from one quart to three gallons.
The sharps mailback systems include
- A primary sharps collection container
- All necessary packaging components for regulatory-compliant mailing
- Prepaid shipping box for easy return
- Waste manifest tracking form
- Full instructions for use
- Treatment and online documentation of treated waste
Learn more about how our mailback systems work to safely manage your sharps disposal needs: