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HHS: Pharmacists in All States Can Give Childhood Vaccinations

However, the directive does not permit pharmacists to administer vaccines to children younger than 3

WEDNESDAY, Aug. 19, 2020 (HealthDay News) — Children can now be vaccinated by pharmacists in all 50 states as the U.S. government seeks to prevent a decline in routine vaccinations during the COVID-19 pandemic.

While 28 states already allowed pharmacists to administer vaccinations to children, the directive announced Wednesday by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services will temporarily override restrictions in 22 states starting this fall, the Associated Press reported.

The directive was issued by HHS head Alex Azar using emergency powers he has during the COVID-19 epidemic, which was declared a public health emergency. “Especially as we approach the school season, it is critical that children have easy access to the pediatric vaccinations to enable them to get back to school as schools reopen,” Azar said, the AP reported.

Childhood vaccinations from doctors’ offices fell sharply in late March and early April, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. However, a May survey of pediatricians revealed that most offices were open and could give recommended childhood vaccinations, and more than half could accept new patients if needed, the AP reported.

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) quickly took issue with the new HHS ruling. “This move is incredibly misguided. In the middle of a pandemic, what families are looking for is reassurance and clinical guidance from the doctors they trust most to care for their children: pediatricians,” AAP President Sally Goza, M.D., said in a statement. “Pediatricians’ offices are open and safe. We have all necessary childhood and adolescent vaccines in stock with trained medical professionals who can administer them. We know that the best, safest place for children to get vaccinated is in their medical home.”

Under the HHS directive, state-licensed pharmacies can administer childhood vaccines without a doctor’s prescription. Pharmacists must first complete a training program. However, the directive does not permit pharmacists to administer vaccines to children younger than 3 years because pharmacists do not have the required training or medical support, according to Brett Giroir, M.D., HHS assistant secretary for health, the AP reported.

AP News Article

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