Every day of the past ten months has brought new and unprecedented challenges to healthcare organizations and the patients they treat. Since day one of the COVID-19 public health emergency, our team at Stericycle has been helping customers and the larger healthcare community weather the crisis. Starting in March, we rapidly ramped up customer service and increased procurement of regulated medical waste (RMW) boxes to support organizations as they disposed of larger waste volumes. We worked with regulatory agencies to determine the safest methods for disposal, and provided custom solutions for temporary hospitals and pop-up testing sites. Throughout it all, we have offered a readily accessible COVID-19 knowledge center, where customers can stay informed about regulatory guidance, waste packaging guidelines, hospital waste procedures and more.
And now, vaccines are being deployed nationwide, and we are stepping up again.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s recent approval of the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines has launched a mass immunization initiative, the scale and timeline of which has never been seen before. Following recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), states are starting to distribute vaccines to hospitals, pharmacies and other healthcare organizations, prioritizing immunizations for front-line and nursing home workers. Over the next few months, the U.S. will systematically expand the vaccination effort until everyone who would like to get a vaccine will be able to get one. Although there will be a lot of logistics involved in the effort, a critical aspect relates to how organizations will handle the increase in sharps and other contaminated medical waste generated during the vaccination process.
To support organizations with their vaccination waste efforts, we can provide guidance, supplies and responsive services. For hospitals, we offer insight regarding vaccine administration plans and provide disposable and reusable container solutions that preserve patient and staff safety. Whether your organization is planning to administer vaccines onsite in repurposed internal spaces like conference rooms or off-site in pop-up vaccination administration stations (or a combination of both), we are ready to work with you to determine the right number of reusable or disposable sharps containers that will accommodate the increase in patient volume. With the right containers, you can prevent potential needlestick injuries with vessels designed to ensure safe, compliant sharps disposal. In addition to providing containers, we can also develop a waste pick-up schedule that aligns with volume surges. Once containers are full, staff can move them to a designated RMW storage area to be picked up by one of our drivers. By centralizing the pick-up location, you can simplify and streamline the disposal process.
For retail pharmacies, we offer disposal solutions and pick-up services that don’t disrupt daily business operations but accommodate increases in medical waste volume due to the higher number of patients coming to the facility. Additionally, our sharps mail-back program may be a good choice to effectively handle any temporary spikes in sharps waste. We can also adjust existing pickup schedules to accommodate a higher volume of waste generated by vaccinations.
Vaccinating America against COVID-19 will require a multi-phase process that encompasses many moving parts. Since your waste management needs may continue to evolve as new developments emerge, it’s important to remain connected with our experts. To learn how we can help you effectively manage COVID-19 waste during vaccine distribution and stay abreast of new and emerging requirements, visit our COVID Knowledge Center.