NACDS Urges States to Affirm HHS Declaration Allowing Pharmacists to Administer Childhood Vaccines During COVID-19 Pandemic

The National Association of Chain Drug Stores (NACDS) has urged governors and state executive teams to take actions to support vaccine access for patients from their local pharmacies.

Following the decision by the Department of Health and Human Services’ (HHS) to authorize pharmacists to order and administer vaccines to individuals aged 3 to 18 years, the National Association of Chain Drug Stores (NACDS) has urged governors and state executive teams to take actions to support vaccine access for patients from their local pharmacies.

In the announcement, HHS Secretary Alex Azar explained that the decision was made to provide easier access to lifesaving vaccines for children and to support higher immunization rates during the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic.

NACDS President and CEO Steven C. Anderson, FASAE, CAE, IOM, reached out to governors and their executive teams and explained that this is a clear signal to the nation regarding the importance of the pharmacy during this pandemic.

“HHS’ action is clear in paving the way for pharmacists and pharmacy interns to provide vaccines to children,” Anderson wrote. “Yet, in providing utmost clarity, NACDS strongly urges your state to affirm that by operating under the HHS declaration, pharmacists are not in violation of your state’s pharmacy laws or regulations.”

One state has made such an affirmation clarifying the state’s position on the HHS declaration. In an issued guidance, the North Carolina Board of Pharmacy (NCBOP) clarified that pharmacists will not be in violation of the state’s pharmacy laws and regulations.

“A North Carolina immunizing pharmacist who orders and administers pediatric vaccines in compliance with DHHS’ declaration during the federally-declared COVID-19 public health emergency shall not be deemed by the Board of Pharmacy to be in violation of the North Carolina Pharmacy Practice Act,” the NCBOP stated in the guidance.

In its communication with governors and state executive teams, NACDS noted the critical importance of additional vaccination-related actions by each state. Such recommended actions include removing remaining barriers that may hinder pharmacists and pharmacy interns from providing vaccines recommended by the CDC; ensuring that the state is prepared for pharmacist-provided COVID-19 vaccinations; and continuing to support policies that will allow pharmacies to take the necessary operational steps that will help them to serve their patients and communities during the pandemic.

REFERENCE

NACDS Urges Further State Actions to Enhance Patients’ Vaccine Access at Crucial Time. Arlington, VA: National Association of Chain Drug Stores; August 27, 2020. nacds.org/news/nacds-urges-further-state-actions-to-enhance-patients-vaccine-access-at-crucial-time/. Accessed August 28, 2020.