All Pharmacists Now Authorized to Administer Childhood Vaccines

August 19, 2020

HHS authorized all state-licensed pharmacists to order and administer childhood vaccinations amid the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic.

Pharmacy organizations are claiming victory after the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) today authorized all state-licensed pharmacists to order and administer childhood vaccinations amid the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic.

In its third amendment to the Declaration under the Public Readiness and Emergency Preparedness Act (PREP Act), HHS authorizes state-licensed pharmacists (and pharmacy interns acting under their supervision, if the pharmacy intern is licensed or registered by his or her state board of pharmacy) to order and administer vaccines to individuals ages 3 through 18 years.1

“This is an extremely important public health decision to ensure young Americans, their families, our communities and our nation can benefit more completely from life-saving vaccines and from the paramount education, trust and accessibility of pharmacies and pharmacists,” said NACDS President and CEO Steven C. Anderson.

“HHS Secretary Alex Azar and HHS Assistant Secretary for Health Brett P. Giroir, MD, have recognized the role of pharmacies and pharmacists as the face of neighborhood health care, which is essential given the challenges facing our nation right now and in anticipation of the months ahead,” Anderson added.

“We have all been pushing for this so long. Everyone has been collaborating with the same message to HHS and it is a real success story,” APhA Executive Vice President & CEO Scott Knoer, PharmD, told Drug Topics®.

The CDC found a “troubling drop” in routine childhood immunizations as a result of families staying at home due to the pandemic, HHS said in a news release.3 “While families followed public health warnings about going out, an unfortunate result was many missed routine vaccinations. This decrease in childhood-vaccination rates is a public health threat and a collateral harm caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.”

“We are going to have all kinds of long term problems because of this,” Knoer added.

"Today’s action means easier access to lifesaving vaccines for our children, as we seek to ensure immunization rates remain high during the COVID-19 pandemic,” Azar said. “The Trump Administration has worked to allow pharmacists—alongside all of America’s heroic health care workers—to practice at the top of their license, empowering the public with more options to protect their health and well-being.”

"Enabling pharmacists to expand their offering of vaccinations is welcome news for families and young patients, for whom neighborhood pharmacists are often the most accessible health care providers," NCPA CEO B. Douglas Hoey, MBA, RPh, said in a statement.4 "NCPA will continue working to see that pharmacists are authorized to administer coronavirus vaccines, when available, and toward the development of a viable way for payers to reimburse pharmacists for providing immunization services."

Pharmacists can administer vaccines under the following requirements, HHS said:

  • The vaccine must be approved or licensed by the FDA.
  • The vaccination must be ordered and administered according to the CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) immunization schedules.
  • The licensed pharmacist must complete a practical training program of at least 20 hours that is approved by the Accreditation Council for Pharmacy Education (ACPE). This training program must include hands-on injection technique, clinical evaluation of indications and contraindications of vaccines, and the recognition and treatment of emergency reactions to vaccines.
  • The licensed or registered pharmacy intern must complete a practical training program that is approved by the ACPE. This training program must include hands-on injection technique, clinical evaluation of indications and contraindications of vaccines, and the recognition and treatment of emergency reactions to vaccines.
  • The licensed pharmacist and licensed or registered pharmacy intern must have a current certificate in basic cardiopulmonary resuscitation.
  • The licensed pharmacist must complete a minimum of 2 hours of ACPE-approved, immunization-related continuing pharmacy education during each state licensing period.
  • The licensed pharmacist must inform his or her childhood-vaccination patients and the adult caregivers accompanying the children of the importance of a well-child visit with a pediatrician or other licensed primary care provider and refer patients as appropriate.

References:

1. Third Amendment to Declaration Under the Public Readiness and Emergency Preparedness Act for Medical Countermeasures Against COVID–19. HHS; August 19, 2020. Accessed August 19, 2020. https://www.hhs.gov/sites/default/files/third-amendment-declaration.pdf

2. NACDS lauds HHS’ move to boost young Americans’ access to pharmacist-provided vaccinations amid public health crisis. News release. NACDS; August 19, 2020. Accessed August 19, 2020.

3. HHS expands access to childhood vaccines during COVID-19 pandemic. News release. HHS; August 19, 2020. Accessed August 19, 2020. https://www.hhs.gov/about/news/2020/08/19/hhs-expands-access-childhood-vaccines-during-covid-19-pandemic.html

4. NCPA Statement on HHS Authorizing Pharmacists to Provide Childhood Vaccines During COVID-19. News Release. NCPA; August 19, 2020. Accessed August 21, 2020. https://ncpa.org/newsroom/news-releases/2020/08/19/ncpa-statement-hhs-authorizing-pharmacists-provide-childhood