Pharmacy orgs applaud HHS expanding pharmacists’ role in childhood vaccine access

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Pharmacy orgs applaud HHS expanding pharmacists’ role in childhood vaccine access

By Sandra Levy - 08/19/2020

The National Association of Chain Drug Stores, the American Pharmacists Association, and the National Community Pharmacists Association praised the Department of Health and Human Services for taking action to increase pharmacists' role in providing childhood vaccinations. 

HHS issued a third amendment to the Declaration under the Public Readiness and Emergency Preparedness Act, to increase access to life-saving childhood vaccines and decrease the risk of vaccine-preventable disease outbreaks as children across the United States return to daycare, preschool and school.

The amendment authorizes state-licensed pharmacists (and pharmacy interns acting under their supervision to administer vaccines if the pharmacy intern is licensed or registered by his or her state board of pharmacy) to order and administer vaccines to individuals ages three through 18 years, subject to several requirements.

“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,” said HHS Secretary Alex Azar. “The Trump Administration has worked to allow pharmacists — alongside all of America’s heroic healthcare workers — to practice at the top of their license, empowering the public with more options to protect their health and well-being.”

NACDS president and CEO Steve Anderson said the amendment 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.

"HHS secretary Alex Azar and HHS assistant secretary for health Brett P. Giroir, M.D. have recognized the role of pharmacies and pharmacists as the face of neighborhood healthcare, which is essential given the challenges facing our nation right now and in anticipation of the months ahead," said Anderson, adding, "NACDS remains entirely focused on preparing as an industry and on advocating before federal and state governments to ensure preparedness for increasing flu vaccination rates, for helping Americans return to normal vaccine schedules, and for anticipating the deployment and administration of COVID-19 vaccines. This absolutely critical work continues, and today’s announcement by HHS delivers substantial progress that will benefit all Americans.”

This is great news from HHS, said Scott Knoer, executive vice president and CEO of APhA. We have long advocated that pharmacists are uniquely positioned to address this public health emergency, and we worked with HHS to develop this strategy to engage all pharmacists. As Admiral Brett Giroir, the assistant secretary for health, said today, pharmacists have always been a trusted voice in the community, and they’re accessible. We couldn’t agree more!

NCPA CEO Doug Hoey said, 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 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.”