The scope of pharmacists’ vaccination authority is expanding nationwide despite state-to-state variations in statutes and regulations, say researchers in a paper published in the November/December issue of the Journal of the American Pharmacists Association. After examining the laws in all 50 states and the District of Columbia, the researchers found that although some states still do not allow pharmacists to vaccinate according to the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) recommendations, overall the trend is toward fewer restrictions and greater leeway for pharmacists involvement and discretion.
When analyzing the data, the researchers found that between 1971 and 2016, jurisdictions made 627 changes to statutes and regulations with respect to pharmacist vaccination authority. Although 479 of those changes did not significantly change the scope of pharmacist vaccination authority, 85 of them were expansions. The researcher also noted a trend toward allowing pharmacists to provide more vaccines to younger patients with less direct prescriber oversight, and as of 2016, 10 jurisdictions allowed pharmacists to administer a vaccine independently.
The researchers noted that states have more recently begun to authorize pharmacists to administer any vaccine recommended by ACIP. They posit that some jurisdictions may prefer to tie restrictions and authority to ACIP recommendations rather than go through the legislative processes to make changes: As ACIP recommendations change, so too do pharmacists' vaccination authority, sparing state lawmakers the tedium of making piecemeal changes to vaccine lists.
In their conclusion, the researchers write that expanding pharmacists’ vaccination authority “supports patients seeking greater convenience and access to vaccination services outside of traditional clinical settings and hours.”