Pharmacists Can Now Administer Children's Vaccinations in All 50 States, Health Officials Say

The measure is designed to prevent childhood vaccination rates from falling during the coronavirus pandemic

Medicine and health care concept Doctor giving patient vaccine insulin or vaccination
Patient receiving a vaccination. Photo: Getty

Pharmacists can now administer shots to children in all 50 states, Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar announced Wednesday.

Azar was able to enact the new measure using emergency powers given to him amid the coronavirus pandemic, the Associated Press reported.

The directive allows licensed pharmacists to give vaccines to children without a doctor's prescription, though the pharmacists must first complete a training program. Previously, only 28 states allowed pharmacists to administer childhood vaccinations.

The authorization will temporarily lift the restrictions in the other 22 states, beginning this fall. However, it will not allow pharmacists to administer vaccines to children under the age of 3, according to the AP.

kids at school with masks

Azar said the measure is designed to prevent childhood vaccination rates from falling during the coronavirus pandemic.

“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,” he said.

In May, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shared that vaccination orders from doctors’ offices sharply decreased in late March and early April, when the pandemic first took effect in the U.S.

The report concluded that “continued coordinated efforts between health care providers and public health officials” will be necessary “to achieve rapid catch-up vaccination.”

children COVID-19
Child and his father wearing masks amid coronavirus pandemic. Getty

In July, the organization found that vaccination rates in New York City, the early epicenter of the coronavirus pandemic, began to rebound in late spring and summer.

While it’s important that families stay home when they can amid the ongoing health crisis, the CDC and other health experts have said that parents should not skip routine appointments, especially those that involve vaccinations.

“The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that we keep up with [routine] check-ups ... ,” Dr. Sara H. Goza, M.D., president of the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) previously told PEOPLE.

“There is a really important reason for children not to miss their vaccines,” she explained. “If we [miss them], we will put ourselves at risk for having a vaccine-preventable disease outbreak like measles or whooping cough.”

As information about the coronavirus pandemic rapidly changes, PEOPLE is committed to providing the most recent data in our coverage. Some of the information in this story may have changed after publication. For the latest on COVID-19, readers are encouraged to use online resources from CDC, WHO, and local public health departments. PEOPLE has partnered with GoFundMe to raise money for the COVID-19 Relief Fund, a fundraiser to support everything from frontline responders to families in need, as well as organizations helping communities. For more information or to donate, click here.

Related Articles