HHS decision authorizes pharmacy techs, interns to provide vaccines, COVID-19 tests

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A healthcare worker giving test to a person in a car.

HHS decision authorizes pharmacy techs, interns to provide vaccines, COVID-19 tests

By Sandra Levy - 10/22/2020

The National Association of Chain Drug Stores praised the Department of Health and Human Services' issuance of guidance on Wednesday under the Public Readiness and Emergency Preparedness Act, or PREP, Act authorizing qualified pharmacy technicians and state-authorized pharmacy interns to administer childhood vaccines, COVID-19 vaccines when made available, and COVID-19 tests, all subject to several requirements.

This guidance 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, but this authorization need not take the form of a license from, or registration with, the State board of pharmacy.

Upon making the announcement, assistant secretary for health Admiral Brett Giroir, said, “Pharmacists and their staff are critical to the COVID-19 response. Together with pediatricians and family physicians, they are ensuring that Americans receive the vaccines they need where they need it.”

NACDS president and CEO Steve Anderson said, “Throughout the pandemic, pharmacy team members have served among all other healthcare heroes with the highest professionalism and dedication, meeting the needs of patients, communities and the entire nation. NACDS has consistently informed federal and state government leaders about steps that can be taken to address complexities, contradictions and barriers in policy that ultimately hinder service to the American people at this crucial time.”

Anderson continued, “Today’s guidance under the PREP Act 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. 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. We will continue to make recommendations about the need to address policy barriers for the purpose of addressing the needs of all Americans.”