The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced on September 9 that state-licensed pharmacists and pharmacy technicians will be authorized to order and administer COVID-19 vaccinations to individuals ages 3 or older. The authorization was made via guidance issued under the Public Readiness and Emergency Preparedness Act (PREP Act) as a way to expand access to approved COVID-19 vaccines when they become available.
To be eligible, state-licensed pharmacists and pharmacy interns must satisfy several requirements as outlined by HHS. These requirements include completion of a practical training program of at least 20 hours that is approved by the Accreditation Council for pharmacy Education (ACPE), and completion of a minimum of two hours of ACPE-approved, immunization-related continuing pharmacy education during each state licensing period. A complete listing of HHS requirements can be found here.
The HHS action was praised by several national pharmacy groups including the American Pharmacists Association (APhA) and the National Community Pharmacists Association (NCPA). These groups had been at the forefront of efforts to obtain approval for pharmacists to administer COVID-10 vaccines, namely by reminding regulators and Congressional leaders of the special role pharmacists have in community health care, and that more than 360,000 pharmacists and pharmacy technicians are currently trained to administer vaccines.
"This is tremendous news," Scott Knoer, APhA executive vice president and CEO to the HHS action. "It properly recognizes that pharmacists serve a vital role in the nation's response to this pandemic. It increases patient access to care during this emergency with providers whom they trust, at a time and place that is convenient to them.