The above headline is taken from a Fox61 news segment
describing the predicted crisis related to newly proposed legislation.
In August 2020, under the authority of the PREP Act, the Department of Health and Human Services authorized all State-licensed pharmacists in the US toorder and administer all vaccinations within ACIP’s standard immunization schedule including COVID-19 and influenza to patients 3 to 18 years of age.
In December 2020, Gov. Lamont issued Executive Order 9Q, authorizing pharmacists to administer COVID-19 and influenza vaccines to patients 10 years of age and older.
As a result of this legislation, Connecticut's families can receive FDA-approved and -authorized vaccines, including COVID-19 and influenza from a licensed pharmacist. Since the first COVID-19 vaccine was approved in December, pharmacists have been volunteering at large-scale vaccine clinics, within community pharmacies, and at pop-up clinics in our communities, designed to help vaccinate our most vulnerable populations.
Now, a bill introduced in the Public Health Committee, HB 6614, would prevent pharmacists from administering these vaccines. This eliminates this vital vaccine access point and sends Connecticut public health backwards when we hope to have vaccine available for all adults by May 2021 and clinical trials are underway to make COVID-19 vaccines available to children. Communities of color and rural areas, where pharmacies and pop-up vaccination clinics are consistently the closest and most convenient point of access to healthcare, could be particularly harmed if pharmacists are no longer able to serve in this role. This legislation will put a strain on other health care workers, who will be asked to step in to fill in these gaps.
Connecticut has been very successful in vaccinating its population as we receive more and more doses of vaccines. We have the opportunity to help put an end to this pandemic by continuing to make COVID-19 vaccines available to as many patients as possible, as quickly as possible. To remove key healthcare workers who contribute to the vaccination efforts through HB 6614’s restrictions is short-sighted and potentially dangerous.
Legislators must reconsider the language of this bill to allow pharmacists to continue administering these important vaccines so that families in Connecticut can access the vaccines that will get our schools, and economy, workplaces, and families on the path back to normalcy.
Stay tuned for information on how to provide written or verbal testimony to help continue to support our most vulnerable populations.