In a recent guidance issued by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) under the Public Readiness and Emergency Preparedness Act (PREP Act), qualified pharmacy technicians and state-authorized pharmacy interns are authorized to administer childhood vaccines, coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) vaccines upon availability, and COVID-19 tests.1,2

The guidance clarifies that the pharmacy intern should be authorized by the state or board of pharmacy in the state in which the practical pharmacy internship is taking place. However, this state authorization does not need to be a license or registration with the state board of pharmacy.1,2

The HHS guidance also clarifies that pharmacy technicians and state-authorized pharmacy interns must be supervised by a qualified pharmacist when administering vaccines under this authorization.1,2

Additionally, there are specific requirements that must be met in accordance with the guidance which, if followed, allow the guidance to preempt any state and local law that prohibits or effectively prohibits those pharmacy technicians and pharmacy interns who satisfy the requirements from administering the vaccinations and COVID-19 tests.1,2

"Pharmacists and their staff are critical to the COVID-19 response," said Assistant Secretary for Health ADM Brett P. Giroir, MD, in an HHS press release announcing the guidance. "Together with pediatricians and family physicians, they are ensuring that Americans receive the vaccines they need where they need it."2

Following the release of the guidance, National Association of Chain Drug Stores (NACDS) president and CEO Steven C. Anderson, FASAE, CAE, IOM, issued a statement welcoming the HHS decision to increase patients’ access to immunization and COVID-19 tests during a time that access is critically important.3

“Throughout the pandemic, pharmacy team members have served among all other healthcare heroes with the highest professionalism and dedication, meeting the needs of patients, communities and the entire nation,” Anderson said in the statement. “NACDS has consistently informed federal and state government leaders about steps that can be taken to address complexities, contradictions and barriers in policy that ultimately hinder service to the American people at this crucial time.”3

Anderson explained further that this guidance under the PREP Act is the most recent in a series of critical steps toward allowing pharmacy teams to more efficiently work on behalf of patients.3

“It ultimately will make a difference in scaling the nation’s response in terms of COVID-19 testing, administering critical vaccinations, and ultimately being prepared to make available COVID-19 vaccinations when they are safe, effective and available,” Anderson said. “We will continue to make recommendations about the need to address policy barriers for the purpose of addressing the needs of all Americans.”3

  1. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). Guidance for PREP Act Coverage for Qualified Pharmacy Technicians and State-Authorized Pharmacy Interns for Childhood Vaccines, COVID-19 Vaccines, and COVID-19 Testing. HHS website. Published October 20, 2020. Accessed October 22, 2020.
  2. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). Trump Administration Takes Action to Further Expand Access to Vaccines, COVID-19 Tests. HHS website. Published October 21, 2020. Accessed October 22, 2020.
  3. National Association of Chain Drug Stores (NACDS). NACDS Welcomes HHS Decision to Enhance Patients’ Access to COVID-19 Vaccinations, Other Vaccinations and COVID-19 Tests with Wise Use of Pharmacy Technicians and Pharmacy Interns. NACDS website. Published October 21, 2020. Accessed October 22, 2020.