Pharmacists Can Give Childhood Shots, U.S. Officials Say
NEW YORK (AP) — Pharmacists in all 50 states are now allowed to give childhood vaccinations under a new directive aimed at preventing future outbreaks of measles and other preventable diseases.
Alex Azar, the head of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, took the step using emergency powers he has during the U.S. coronavirus epidemic, which was declared a public health emergency. The directive announced Wednesday will temporarily preempt restrictions in 22 states starting this fall.
The move is designed to help prevent vaccination rates from falling during the pandemic, Azar said.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has reported that orders for childhood vaccines from doctors’ offices plummeted in late March and early April as their offices closed or saw fewer patients, raising concerns that vaccination rates would fall.
But a survey of pediatricians in May suggested that most offices were open and able to give recommended shots, and more than half were able to take on new patients if needed. Another CDC report from late last month noted New York City saw a rebound in kids getting their shots. National 2020 numbers from the agency are not expected for another year.
“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 Trump administration has been pushing for schools and day care centers to reopen, as part of an effort to allow parents to return to work and help revive the economy.
Currently 28 states allow pharmacists to administer vaccinations to children, Azar said. In 22 states, laws limit such vaccinations, including three states that prohibit pharmacists from giving immunizations to any kids.
The authorization allows state-licensed pharmacies to administer childhood vaccines without a doctor’s prescription. Pharmacists must first complete a training program, although many already have, Azar said.
The measure does not OK pharmacists to give shots to children younger than 3. Some of the most important childhood vaccinations are given to babies and toddlers, but pharmacists don’t have the training or medical support to administer doses to young children, said Dr. Brett Giroir, the HHS Assistant Secretary for Health.
Most childhood vaccinations are given at doctor’s offices and it’s relatively unusual for kids to get vaccinations at pharmacies. In 2018, only about 7% of childhood flu shots were administered at pharmacies, according to CDC data. And it’s even rarer for other childhood shots to be given at drug stores.
The American Academy of Pediatrics on Wednesday issued a statement criticizing the directive.
“Pediatricians’ offices are open and safe. We have all necessary childhood and adolescent vaccines in stock with trained medical professionals who can administer them,” said the organization’s president, Dr. Sally Goza. “Rather than create an unnecessary alternative method to deliver immunizations to children, our federal government should invest in the one we have: pediatricians.”
The American Pharmacists Association has been talking with federal officials about expanding services that its members can provide during the pandemic, said Mitchel Rothholz, the organization’s chief of governance and state affiliates.
“I wouldn’t say we initiated” the idea of gaining federal authorization to vaccinate children, he said. “It was part of ongoing conversations going on with decision makers, both at the federal and state level.”
The Associated Press Health and Science Department receives support from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute’s Department of Science Education. The AP is solely responsible for all content.
In The News
WASHINGTON — The Securities and Exchange Commission this week announced its first whistleblower award of 2022 in its crackdown on... Read More
WASHINGTON — The Securities and Exchange Commission this week announced its first whistleblower award of 2022 in its crackdown on corporate fraud. The federal agency paid $13 million to a tipster whose information led the Securities and Exchange Commission to shut down a corporate fraud scheme.... Read More
WASHINGTON — On Tuesday the Department of Labor set new limits on the amount of time employers can use tipped-employees... Read More
WASHINGTON — On Tuesday the Department of Labor set new limits on the amount of time employers can use tipped-employees to do non-tip-producing work. The new ruling, implemented at a time of nation-wide labor shortages, comes via a clarification of language in the Fair Labor Standards... Read More
WASHINGTON (AP) — U.S. health regulators on Wednesday authorized the first pill against COVID-19, a Pfizer drug that Americans will... Read More
WASHINGTON (AP) — U.S. health regulators on Wednesday authorized the first pill against COVID-19, a Pfizer drug that Americans will be able to take at home to head off the worst effects of the virus. The long-awaited milestone comes as U.S. cases, hospitalizations and deaths are... Read More
WASHINGTON — The Federal Communication Commission hosted an opening meeting on Wednesday to consider proposed rule changes to the Emergency... Read More
WASHINGTON — The Federal Communication Commission hosted an opening meeting on Wednesday to consider proposed rule changes to the Emergency Alert System, E-Rate program and spectrum sharing for low-earth orbit satellite systems. The meeting was attended by FCC Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel, Secretary Marlene Dortch and Commissioners... Read More
ATLANTA — People getting vaccinated against COVID-19 should be offered Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna shots rather than those containing the Johnson... Read More
ATLANTA — People getting vaccinated against COVID-19 should be offered Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna shots rather than those containing the Johnson & Johnson vaccine due to an increased risk of blood clots in young and middle-aged women, a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention panel said Thursday.... Read More
WASHINGTON — Six former chairs of the Federal Communications Commission accused aviation regulators of needlessly trying to derail new 5G... Read More
WASHINGTON — Six former chairs of the Federal Communications Commission accused aviation regulators of needlessly trying to derail new 5G mobile services slated to start next month. As previously reported by The Well News, a roiling dispute has been going on for more than a year... Read More