American Nurse HeroesANA on the Frontline

COVID-19 vaccine handling: Maximizing doses and public confidence

By: By Debbie Hatmaker, PhD, RN, FAAN, and Nurisha Wade

The American Nurses Association (ANA) is proud of the leading role nurses play at all levels of the COVID-19 pandemic, which has shaken the world and transformed care delivery. Nurses have been the backbone of COVID-19 care and prevention, as well as key educators of patients and the public on how to slow the spread so we can return to some semblance of normalcy. As the voice of 4.2 million RNs, ANA has reached into the nursing community with vital information and tools, and together we cheered on December 14, 2020, when a nurse was the first to receive a COVID-19 vaccine—an event seen by millions on national television.

The ongoing nationwide expansion of COVID-19 vaccination efforts, options, and programs requires nursing professionals’ full engagement, leadership, and continuous learning. The current landscape of nurses delivering care while promoting wellness during a public health crisis demands adaptability, resilience, and perseverance. As members of the most trusted profession, we embrace our critical role to help ensure quality and public trust in available vaccines. One tool that can help nurses accomplish this is the COVID-19 Vaccine Handling Toolkit ( from the U.S. Pharmacopeia (USP). 

Meeting challenges head on 

USP’s COVID-19 Vaccine Handling Toolkit is designed to help address the challenges nurses and other healthcare providers face every day in preparing, distributing, and administering essential vaccines. Simply put, the toolkit outlines strategies and resources to achieve operational efficiencies that maximize vaccinations, minimize potential waste, ensure confidence in essential processes, and increase public trust in vaccine quality. Available online, the toolkit is updated regularly to keep pace with changes in scientific knowledge and best practices.

To help achieve these goals, ANA is working with USP to disseminate the toolkit throughout the nursing community and across the healthcare ecosystem. We invite you to join us in using and sharing the toolkit in your practice setting to help advance our shared commitment to ending the pandemic as quickly as possible.

Supporting safety and accelerated delivery 

The COVID-19 Vaccine Handling Toolkit aims to facilitate consistency in vaccine handling practices. It can help provide confidence among nurses and other healthcare practitioners that they’re helping to ensure the quality of the vaccine for patients, while also following the latest safe-handling practices to protect themselves. Broad implementation of toolkit strategies will also help boost public confidence in vaccination as an essential part of the solution to the pandemic and appropriate preventive care—especially for the most vulnerable.

Convening diverse stakeholders 

The toolkit was developed by over 30 independent expert volunteers led by USP’s Healthcare Safety and Quality Expert Committee with representation from several other Expert Committees, including U.S. government representatives from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. The toolkit is being updated periodically as new information and vaccines become available. Users should register to receive updates at

Building essential resources

Beyond the toolkit, ANA and USP are working together to share evidence-based information to help healthcare practitioners and their patients learn more about COVID-19 vaccines and build public trust.

For over 200 years, USP has worked to build trust where it matters most: in the world’s medicines, dietary supplements and foods ( To learn more about USP’s standards for quality vaccines ( and other COVID-19 response efforts, including the Hand Sanitizer Toolkit (, visit For more on ANA’s response efforts, visit the COVID-19 resource center ( 

Debbie Hatmaker is executive vice president and chief nursing officer of the ANA Enterprise. Nurisha Wade is vice president of the Global Healthcare Quality and Safety Center of Excellence at USP. This article was originally published online at

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