On August 19, 2020, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced that it had amended the March 17, 2020 Declaration Under the Public Readiness and Emergency Preparedness Act (PREP Act) concerning the COVID-19 Public Health Emergency to increase accessibility of lifesaving childhood vaccines in order to control preventable outbreaks and diseases and mitigate additional strains on the healthcare system. The directive authorizes state-licensed pharmacists to administer, without a doctor’s prescription, vaccines to children ages 3 to 18, pursuant to certain conditions and restrictions. Twenty-eight states already allow pharmacists to administer vaccinations to children. On August 20th, HHS also announced it was expanding the PREP Act’s liability immunity provisions to protect pharmacists and pharmacy interns from liability for alleged harm arising from their administration of vaccines to children.
The amended Declaration can be reviewed here. The American Academy of Pediatrics published an announcement opposing the HHS action, calling it “incredibly misguided” and arguing that pediatricians are the best and safest administrators of childhood vaccinations.