How Pharmacy Technicians Can Be Certified to Administer Immunizations in 2020

Supplements, Immunization Guide for Pharmacists November 2020, Volume 2, Issue 2

Pharmacy technicians are garnering support from key industry leaders as they rally for more active roles and responsibility.

As we prepare for the 2020 influenza season, the additional effects of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) may lead to pharmacy technicians taking on nontraditional responsibilities to meet the heightened demand for health care. As a result, pharmacies, which are the second most common location for administering influenza vaccinations to adults, according to data on the 2018-2019 influenza season,1 may benefit from staff with advanced certifications. The 2017 administrative ruling in Idaho allowing adequately trained pharmacy technicians to administer immunizations has forged a path toward relieving the burden that pharmacists typically carry.2 By 2019, pharmacy technicians in Idaho had administered approximately 25,000 vaccinations with no reported adverse events or errors, according to Idaho’s board of pharmacy.2 In the 3 years since the groundbreaking law, 6 additional states allowed (or are in the process of allowing) technicians to administer immunizations, with more states considering similar legislation (see figure).3,4 This article provides information for pharmacy technicians on immunization administration certification and resources for further engagement with the pharmacy technician community. Despite being highly regulated, the pharmacy industry considers this a positive change, and technicians are garnering support from key industry leaders as they rally for more active roles and responsibility.2

BEING PREPARED

It is an exciting time to be a pharmacy technician, and in states where technicianadministered immunization is allowed, there are several points to consider. Some of these key points to keep in mind include the following:

  • Start with a conversation. Talk with your pharmacy organization or pharmacy manager to understand the current policy and rules for technician-administered immunizations and what opportunities may exist. Understanding your organization’s viewpoint on advanced pharmacy technician duties and responsibilities may assist you in creating an applicable professional development plan that leads to future success.
  • Ensure you are properly trained. The requirements for training vary in each of the states that allow technicians to carry out immunizations, 4 ranging from 1 hour of education to the completion of training in current cardiopulmonary resuscitation techniques approved by the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists. In some states, holding a national pharmacy technician certification, CPhT, may also be required. It is important to research and learn what the specific training requirements are for your state, if applicable, so you can actively seek out the proper training to better prepare yourself to perform at a higher level.
  • Become involved. Look into opportunities to advocate for technicians, both inside and outside your organization. Get involved with local, state, or national associations to learn more about how you can affect the advancement of pharmacy technicians. Also, see if your state board of pharmacy includes a technician member. If they don’t, try advocating for one.
  • Be a voice for technicians. Check with your organization to see if they have a technician advocacy group or a technician advisory committee and request to be considered or included, or actively participate. Reach out to organizations that share the same commitment to technicians and look for opportunities to write about, talk about, or engage in other activities (ie, committees, work groups, or advisory boards).5

SUPPORT AND ADVOCACY

In March 2020, the American Pharmacists Association (APhA) House of Delegates, which represents over 60,000 pharmacists nationwide,introduced and adopted a policy statement regarding pharmacy technicians’ role in immunization administration at the annual meeting.6,7 In August 2020, the National Healthcareer Association spearheaded an initiative to form the Coalition for the Advancement of Pharmacy Technician Practice.8 The coalition’s purpose and mission is to bring pharmacy technician organizations and associations together to support the efforts of advancing pharmacy technicians (during the current health crisis and beyond), recognizing that regulation is often the largest barrier to moving forward.8 The coalition and its partners—such as Pharmacy Times®, the National Community Pharmacists Association and the National Association of Chain Drug Stores—are actively engaged in advocating with state boards of pharmacy to recognize trained technicians and allow them to perform the technical function of administering immunizations.8 This new focus demonstrates growing industry support of technicians’ abilities and value within the pharmacy workforce.2 About 40% of pharmacy employers reported that pharmacy technicians have more responsibility in 2020 compared with 2019.9 Although growth may be slow, the level of support for the pharmacy technician workforce continues to increase, affording technicians the ability to work at the top of their credential or license.7 This continued support of technician advancement will only serve to improve the already high level of care being delivered by pharmacy professionals across our communities.

JESSICA LANGLEY, MS, is the executive director of education and advocacy at the National Healthcareer Association in Leawood, Kansas.

REFERENCES

  • Early-season flu vaccination coverage—United States, November 2018. CDC. Updated December 14, 2018. Accessed October 19, 2020. https://www.cdc.gov/ flu/fluvaxview/nifs-estimates-nov2018.htm
  • Adams AJ, Desselle SP, McKeirnan KC. Pharmacy technician-administered vaccines: on perceptions and practice reality. Pharmacy (Basel). 2018;6(4):124. doi:10.3390/pharmacy6040124
  • Eid D, Osborne J, Borowicz B. Moving the needle: a 50-state and District of Columbia landscape review of laws regarding pharmacy technician vaccine administration. Pharmacy (Basel). 2019;7(4):168. doi:10.3390/pharmacy7040168
  • McKeirnan K. Techs’ role in immunization administration expands. Pharmacy Times®. April 29, 2020. Accessed October 19, 2020. https://www. pharmacytimes.com/publications/issue/2020/april2020/techs-role-in-immunization- administration-expands
  • Koehler T, Brown A. Documenting the evolution of the relationship between the pharmacy support workforce and pharmacists to support patient care. Res Social Adm Pharm. 2017;13(2):280-285. doi:10.1016/j.sapharm.2016.10.012
  • Actions of the 2020 House of Delegates—Special Session: American Pharmacists Association. American Pharmacists Association. March 20, 2020. Accessed October 19, 2020. https://www.pharmacist.com/sites/default/files/audience/2020_Report_of_the_APhA_Virtual_House_of_Delegates-FINAL_2.pdf
  • House of Delegates Policy and Procedure Manual 1963-2019. American Pharmacists Association. Accessed October 19, 2020. https://media.pharmacist.com/HOD/18512+-+HOD+Policy+and+Procedures+Manual+2020_online.pdf
  • Coalition for the Advancement of Pharmacy Technician Practice. National Healthcareer Association. Accessed October 19, 2020. https://info.nhanow.com/pt-coalition
  • 2020 industry outlook. National Healthcareer Association. Accessed October 19, 2020. https://cdn2.hubspot.net/hubfs/1430252/campaigns/2020/access%202020/NHA_IndustryOutlook_2020.pdf