The American Pharmacists Association (APhA), the National Association of Chain Drug Stores (NACDS), and National Community Pharmacists Association (NCPA) released statements applauding the decision by the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to authorize pharmacists to order and administer vaccines for patients aged 3 through 18 years across the country, regardless of state laws and regulations to the contrary.1-4

HHS’ decision to expand pharmacists’ authorization nationally was made following a May 2020 CDC report that demonstrated there was a significant drop in routine childhood immunizations as a result of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic. The HHS acknowledged that this drop in childhood immunizations poses a critical threat to public health in the midst of an already critical health crisis with the COVID-19 pandemic.1

“This 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,” said NACDS President and CEO Steven C. Anderson in a statement following the HHS announcement. “HHS Secretary Alex Azar and HHS Assistant Secretary for Health Brett P. Giroir, MD 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.”2

This expansion of pharmacists’ authorization is also critically important right now, as children across the United States get ready to return to daycare, preschool, and school.1-4

“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,” said NCPA CEO B. Douglas Hoey, MBA in a statement.4

Executive vice president and CEO of APhA Scott J. Knoer, MS, PharmD, FASHP echoed this sentiment regarding the role of pharmacists in communities across the country in APhA’s statement.3

“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,” said Knoer. “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!”3

In the statements from the organizations, each expressed their commitment to supporting the industry and protecting communities throughout the nation from vaccine-preventable diseases.2-4

“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,” said Hoey in the statement from NCPA.4

ApHA also noted that although this authorization is a current success for the country, it was critical for the organization to continue to focus on advising states’ governors regarding the important role of community-based pharmacists and pharmacies in every states’ vaccine distribution and immunization plans on the road ahead.3

Additionally, the NACDS noted the importance of such advocacy with state and federal governments when the deployment and administration of COVID-19 vaccines becomes imminent.2  

“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,” Anderson said in the statement. “This absolutely critical work continues, and today’s announcement by HHS delivers substantial progress that will benefit all Americans.”2

REFERENCE
  1. Antrim A. HHS Authorizes All Pharmacists to Administer Childhood Vaccines During COVID-19 Pandemic. Pharmacy Times. 2020. pharmacytimes.com/news/hhs-authorizes-all-pharmacists-to-administer-childhood-vaccines-during-covid-19-pandemic. Accessed August 20, 2020.
  2. NACDS Lauds HHS’ Move to Boost Young Americans’ Access to Pharmacist-Provided Vaccinations Amid Public Health Crisis. NACDS; August 19, 2020. nacds.org/news/nacds-lauds-hhs-move-to-boost-young-americans-access-to-pharmacist-provided-vaccinations-amid-public-health-crisis/. Accessed August 20, 2020.
  3. In Major Win, HHS Authorizes Pharmacists to Order and Administer Vaccines to Children Nationwide During the Public Health Emergency. APhA; August 19, 2020. Accessed August 20, 2020.
  4. NCPA Statement on HHS Authorizing Pharmacists to Provide Childhood Vaccines During COVID-19. Alexandria, VA: National Community Pharmacists Association; August 19, 2020. Accessed August 21, 2020.

Editor’s Note: Article was updated on August 21, 2020 to include statement from NCPA.