HHS Clarifies Guidance for Pharmacy Interns, Techs to Administer COVID-19, Childhood Vaccines

October 22, 2020
Christine Blank

The new guidance provides clarification on requirements for pharmacy interns and technicians to administer childhood and COVID-vaccines, as well as COVID-19 tests.

In a new guidance, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) offered clarification on the requirements for pharmacy interns and technicians to be able to administer childhood vaccines and coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) vaccines once available.1

In early September, the Assistant Secretary for Health issued guidance authorizing state-licensed pharmacists to order and administer, and state-licensed or registered pharmacy interns acting under the supervision of the qualified pharmacist to administer, to persons ages 3 or older, routine childhood vaccinations and COVID-19 vaccinations that have been authorized or licensed by the FDA, provided that certain conditions are met—thereby making them “covered persons” under the under the Public Readiness and Emergency Preparedness Act (PREP Act).

The latest guidance, issued on October 21, clarifies that the pharmacy intern must be authorized by the State or board of pharmacy in the State in which the practical pharmacy internship occurs. However, the authorization does not need not take the form of a license from, or registration with, the State board of pharmacy.

"Pharmacists and their staff are critical to the COVID-19 response," said Assistant Secretary for Health ADM Brett P. Giroir, MD. "Together with pediatricians and family physicians, they are ensuring that Americans receive the vaccines they need where they need it.”

NACDS and other pharmacy organizations have been pushing HHS to clarify the childhood vaccine guidance, since state boards of pharmacy’ regulations on pharmacists and techs administering childhood vaccines differ.

The new guidance is “the latest in a series of extremely important steps that this Administration has taken to help empower the response of pharmacy teams on behalf of patients,” said NACDS President and CEO Steven C. Anderson in a news release.2 “It ultimately will make a difference in scaling the nation’s response in terms of COVID-19 testing, administering critical vaccinations, and ultimately being prepared to make available COVID-19 vaccinations when they are safe, effective and available.”

Additionally, the guidance authorizes qualified pharmacy technicians and State-authorized pharmacy interns to administer COVID-19 tests, including serology tests, that the FDA has approved, cleared, or authorized.

References:

1. Trump Administration takes further action to expand access to vaccines, COVID-19 tests. News release. HHS; October 21, 2020. Accessed October 22, 2020. https://www.hhs.gov/about/news/2020/10/21/trump-administration-takes-action-further-expand-access-vaccines-covid-19-tests.html

2. NACDS welcomes HHS decision to enhance patients’ access to COVID-19 vaccinations, other vaccinations and COVID-19 Tests with wise use of pharmacy technicians and pharmacy interns. News release. NACDS; October 21, 2020. Accessed October 22, 2020. https://www.nacds.org/news/nacds-welcomes-hhs-decision-to-enhance-patients-access-to-covid-19-vaccinations-other-vaccinations-and-covid-19-tests-with-wise-use-of-pharmacy-technicians-and-pharmacy-interns.