California Governor Gavin Newsom issued an executive order in his state to increase the availability of Clinical Laboratory Improvement Amendments (CLIA)-waived coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) testing. The order also addresses other issues related to the state’s needs during the COVID-19 pandemic.1,2

Specifically, the order allows the California Department of Consumer Affairs, in consultation with the California Department of Public Health, to amend scopes of practice to allow pharmacists and pharmacy technicians to conduct CLIA-waived COVID-19 tests.1

The executive order clarifies that this amendment was made to allow pharmacists and pharmacy technicians to support the expansion of the state’s current COVID-19 testing capacity.1 Such an expansion has long been advocated for by the California Pharmacists Association (CPhA), according to CPhA president Ken Thai, PharmD.

“Governor Newsom’s executive order, granting pharmacists and pharmacy technicians the authority to conduct end-to-end COVID-19 testing is the result of the California Pharmacists Association’s advocacy efforts to raise awareness to the vital role that pharmacy professionals play in the health of Californians. Our relationships and collaboration with the Governor, State Departments and legislative officials, is resulting in greater access for patient care throughout California,” Thai said.

The issuance of the executive order by Newsom follows a recent authorization by the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) that allows pharmacists to order and administer vaccines nationally for patients aged 3 through 18 years. This move by the HHS was immediately applauded by The American Pharmacists Association, the National Association of Chain Drug Stores (NACDS), and National Community Pharmacists Association in released statements.3

“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, FASAE, CAE, IOM, 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 health care, which is essential given the challenges facing our nation right now and in anticipation of the months ahead.”4

Additionally, as pharmacies face an influx of patients in the coming months seeking flu vaccinations, COVID-19 testing, and, eventually, COVID-19 vaccinations, pharmacy technicians will play a vital role in meeting this need.5

In acknowledgment of these needs, the National Healthcareer Association (NHA) formed a nationwide Pharmacy Technician Coalition with the aim of expanding the role of certified pharmacy technicians in order to support the needs of patients during the COVID-19 pandemic. The recent inclusion of pharmacy technicians within the California Governor’s order speaks to the state’s acknowledgement of the advocacy work done by organizations such as NHA to raise awareness around the critical role pharmacy technicians play in supporting the country during this health crisis.5

“The National Healthcareer Association, as an exclusive partner of the California Pharmacists Association, is thrilled to see the progress and opportunity being put forth by Governor Newsom. One of our shared partnership goals is to support and advocate for pharmacy technicians across the state and we see it as a positive step toward the expansion of technicians’ scope of practice and an increased level of recognition in their technical abilities,” said Jessica Langley, MS, executive director of Education and Advocacy, National Healthcareer Association.

REFERENCES
  1. Executive Order N-75-20. California Governor's Office of Emergency Services; August 24, 2020. gov.ca.gov/wp-content/uploads/2020/08/8.24.20-EO-N-75-20-COVID-19-text.pdf. Accessed August 25, 2020.
  2. May B. Governor Newsom Signs Executive Order in Response to COVID-19. California Governor's Office of Emergency Services; August 24, 2020. oesnews.com/governor-newsom-signs-executive-order-in-response-to-covid-19/. Accessed August 25, 2020.
  3. Hippensteele, A. APhA, NACDS, NCPA Applaud HHS Authorization of Pharmacists to Order and Administer Vaccines to Children Nationwide. Pharmacy Times. August 20, 2020. pharmacytimes.com/news/apha-nacds-applaud-hhs-authorization-of-pharmacists-to-order-and-administer-vaccines-to-children-nationwide. Accessed August 26, 2020.
  4. 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.
  5. National Healthcareer Association (NHA) Launches Coalition for the Advancement of Pharmacy Technician Practice. Leawood, KA: National Healthcareer Association website; August 19, 2020. prnewswire.com/news-releases/national-healthcareer-association-nha-launches-coalition-for-the-advancement-of-pharmacy-technician-practice-301115065.html. Accessed August 26, 2020.