With flu season looming and the pandemic continuing to impact patient’s ability to see their providers, the National Association of Chain Drug Stores is urging states to act to ensure patients have access to vaccines administered at pharmacies.
The organization sent an email to the nation’s governors, calling on them to respond to the Department of Health and Human Services’ move last week authorizing pharmacists to order and administer vaccines to patients 3 to 18 years old, and authorizing pharmacy interns to administer vaccines to the same patient during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“HHS’ action is clear in paving the way for pharmacists and pharmacy interns to provide vaccines to children,” NACDS president and CEO Steve Anderson wrote in the letter. “Yet, in providing utmost clarity, NACDS strongly urges your state to affirm that by operating under the HHS declaration, pharmacists are not in violation of your state’s pharmacy laws or regulations.”
Some states already have acted. In North Carolina, the state board of pharmacy issued a guidance last week to affirm HHS’ action. The guidance made clear that any pharmacist ordering and administering pediatric vaccines in compliance with the HHS decision would not be deemed to be in violation of North Carolina’s Pharmacy Practice Act.
NACDS also urged governors to remove any barriers in their states that prevent pharmacists and pharmacy interns from providing flu and other vaccines that are recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The organization’s letter also urged states to ensure preparedness for pharmacists to administer an eventual COVID-19 vaccine, as well as to sustain policies put in place during the pandemic that allow pharmacies to take necessary operational steps to serve their patients.
NACDS further elaborated on its perspective on pharmacy’s role in vaccinations in a Morning Consult op-ed.