While approval for a COVID-19 vaccine is pending, the Trump administration has taken steps to expand access to a vaccine when it becomes available. On Wednesday, Sept. 9, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) issued guidance allowing state-licensed pharmacists to order COVID-19 vaccinations and administer them to persons age 3 and older. Pharmacy interns will also be allowed to administer COVID-19 vaccines under the supervision of a qualified pharmacist.
The expanded policy will preempt state laws limiting pharmacists’ ability to provide vaccines to people under a certain age. Under current state law, pharmacists in Arkansas can provide influenza vaccines to patients age 7 and older under a general written protocol. Pharmacists can provide other vaccines and immunizations to children between the ages of 7 and 17, but only with a prescription from a doctor. Pharmacists can also administer other medications, such as allergy medicines or vitamins, to children age 7 and older with a prescription from a doctor.
There are a number of additional requirements pharmacists must meet under the HHS guidance in order to administer a COVID-19 vaccine. The vaccine administered must be authorized or licensed by the Food and Drug Administration, and it must be ordered and administered according to the Advisory Council on Immunization Practices’ COVID-19 recommendations. Pharmacists and pharmacy interns must also complete a practical training program approved by the Accreditation Council for Pharmacy Education and have a current certificate in basic CPR. A full list of requirements is contained in the guidance (linked above).