In Major Win, HHS Authorizes Pharmacists to Order and Administer Vaccines to Children Nationwide During the Public Health Emergency

CONTACT: Frank Fortin


The American Pharmacists Association applauds today’s announcement by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, which authorizes licensed pharmacists to provide all vaccines recommended by the CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP), and approved or licensed by the FDA, to all children ages 3 to 18 during the COVID-19 pandemic, regardless of state laws and regulations to the contrary.

HHS took this important step to increase access to lifesaving childhood vaccines and decrease the risk of vaccine-preventable disease outbreaks as children across the United States return to daycare, preschool and school.

“This is great news from HHS,” said Scott J. Knoer, MS, PharmD, FASHP, Executive Vice President and CEO of APhA. “We have long advocated that pharmacists are uniquely positioned to address this public health emergency, and we worked with HHS to develop this strategy to engage all pharmacists. As Admiral Brett Giroir, the assistant secretary for health, said today, pharmacists have always been a trusted voice in the community, and they’re accessible. We couldn’t agree more!”

Under today’s action from HHS:

  • The vaccine must be FDA-approved or licensed.
  • The vaccination must be ordered and administered according to the CDC’s ACIP-immunization schedules.
  • The licensed pharmacist must complete a practical training program of at least 20 hours that is approved by the Accreditation Council for Pharmacy Education (ACPE)—ACPE training is also required for licensed or registered pharmacy interns. Pharmacists must also complete a minimum of two hours of ACPE-approved, immunization-related continuing pharmacy education during each State licensing period.
  • The licensed pharmacist and licensed or registered pharmacy intern must have a current certificate in basic cardiopulmonary resuscitation.
  • The licensed pharmacist must comply with recordkeeping and reporting requirements of the jurisdiction in which he or she administers vaccines, including:
    • Informing the patient’s primary-care provider when available,
    • Submitting the required immunization information to the State or local immunization information system (vaccine registry),
    • Complying with requirements with respect to reporting adverse events, and
    • Complying with requirements whereby the person administering a vaccine must review the vaccine registry or other vaccination records prior to administering a vaccine.
  • The licensed pharmacist must inform his or her childhood-vaccination patients and the adult caregivers accompanying the children of the importance of a well-child visit with a pediatrician or other licensed primary care provider and refer patients as appropriate.

Pharmacists and pharmacy interns may still order or administer vaccines to individuals ages two or younger to the extent authorized under state law to meet a community need. APhA and our colleagues in pharmacy are committed to working with the entire healthcare team and other members of the immunization neighborhood to protect our communities from vaccine-preventable diseases.

APhA plans to work with our pharmacy and public health partners to advise our states’ governors to ensure that all qualified community-based pharmacists and pharmacies play a vital role in every states’ vaccine distribution and immunization plans.