The National Association of Chain Drug Stores, along with a coalition of 12 other national pharmacy groups wrote a letter on June 29 to Robert Charrow, general counsel of the Department of Health and Human Services, urging HHS to act now in order to ensure that pharmacists are able to provide vaccines for COVID-19 as they become available.
“We ask HHS to declare under the Public Readiness and Emergency Preparedness Act that licensed pharmacists are authorized to order and administer all COVID-19 vaccines that the Food and Drug Administration authorize or approve to prevent the COVID-19 virus,” the groups wrote.
The groups’ request builds on the important actions HHS has already taken to empower pharmacies and pharmacists in the ongoing fight against COVID-19.
In May, the Department further reinforced its April 8, 2020 federal guidance, stating powerfully that the PREP Act preempts any state or local requirement that prohibits – or effectively prohibits – a pharmacist from ordering and administering a COVID-19 diagnostic test authorized by the FDA.
Now, the pharmacy coalition is urging HHS to issue a similar PREP Act declaration that would dramatically expand access to COVID-19 vaccinations, rapidly advance the nation’s immunization program and prevent delays in adequately protecting Americans with vaccines.
“Even as the nation focuses on the current state of the pandemic, it is absolutely critical to act now and empower pharmacies and pharmacists for a ‘ready, set, go’ status to help deploy COVID-19 vaccines without delay,” said NACDS president and CEO Steve Anderson.
Anderson added, “CDC researchers found that in a pandemic situation 80% of the nation can be vaccinated seven weeks sooner when pharmacies are included in the vaccination plan. There is a pharmacy within five miles of 90% of all Americans, and these health destinations ultimately will prove essential for COVID-19 vaccinations, as well as for the rapidly approaching need to vaccinate for the flu and to help individuals return to their normal vaccination schedules as the CDC recommends.”