HHS allows pharmacy technicians and interns to administer vaccines

Oct. 22, 2020

The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has issued a guidance, allowing qualified pharmacy technicians and state-authorized pharmacy interns to administer childhood vaccines, COVID-19 vaccines, and COVID-19 diagnostic and serology tests, according to a press release.

The guidance follows up on a similar document issued on September 3, 2020, which focused only on COVID-19 vaccines. In that document, HHS authorized state-licensed pharmacists to order and administer COVID-19 vaccinations that have been authorized or licensed by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The earlier guidance also allowed state-licensed or registered pharmacy interns acting under the supervision of the qualified pharmacist to administer COVID-19 vaccines to people ages three or older.

Both guidance documents were issued through the assistant secretary for health under the Public Readiness and Emergency Preparedness Act (PREP Act). The new guidance also clarifies that the pharmacy intern must be authorized by the state or board of pharmacy in the state in which the practical pharmacy internship occurs, but this authorization need not take the form of a license or registration with the state board of pharmacy.

In order to administer the vaccinations, the qualified pharmacy technicians or state-authorized pharmacy interns must comply with numerous regulatory requirements that include completing a practical training program that is approved by the Accreditation Council for Pharmacy Education (ACPE). This training program must include a hands-on injection technique and the recognition and treatment of emergency reactions to vaccines.

The qualified pharmacy technician or state-authorized pharmacy intern also must have a current certificate in basic cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR). They must also complete a minimum of two hours of ACPE-approved, immunization-related continuing pharmacy education during the relevant state licensing period.

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