A few days ago the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) said it is allowing state-licensed pharmacists to administer childhood vaccines to children ages 3-18 years to increase access and improve vaccination rates. This decision was caused by COVID-19 pandemic, that start at 2019 and still going.
After this statement, AAP (The American Academy of Pediatrics) opposed HHS. “This unprecedented expansion of pharmacies’ ability to administer vaccines to children is not a solution to the vaccine hesitancy that is driving down rates of childhood immunizations in the U.S. Many parents have questions about their children’s vaccines, and pediatricians are ready to talk with them. It’s what we do, every day, one-on-one with thousands of parents, as part of the long-term trusting relationships that families have with their physicians,” said AAP President Sara H. Goza
Efficiency of Childhood Vaccines
According to data from the U.S. Influenza Vaccine Effectiveness Network on 4,112 children and adults with acute respiratory illness during October 23, 2019–January 25, 2020, the overall estimated effectiveness of seasonal influenza vaccine for preventing medically attended, laboratory-confirmed influenza virus infection was 45%.
HHS Secretary Alex Azar answered that pharmacists are well-educated about vaccines. Almost every pharmacist already educated about risks, and has prior experience vaccinating patients. Pharmacists are also the nation’s most accessible health care professionals, with 90 percent of Americans living within five miles of a community pharmacy.
“There are no greater public health priorities today than defeating the COVID-19 pandemic and protecting our nation from other vaccine-preventable diseases like the seasonal flu. We need all hands on deck to improve Americans’ access to life-saving vaccines during these difficult times. For that reason, we celebrate the action by the US Department of Health and Human Services to expand pharmacists’ role in providing life-saving vaccines to children,”- APhA, NCPA, ASHP, and several other groups said in a joint statement.
According to AAP patients will be better if they start to receive vaccine from their pediatrician who knows their medical history and who can simultaneously provide services like developmental and mental health screenings, counseling about nutrition and injury prevention, and chronic disease management.
“In the middle of a pandemic, what families are looking for is reassurance and clinical guidance from the doctors they trust most to care for their children: pediatricians,” Dr. Goza said in a news release. “Pediatricians’ offices are open and safe. We have all the necessary childhood vaccines in stock with trained medical professionals who can administer them. We know that the best, safest place for children to get vaccinated is in their medical home.”
HHS remind the fact that overall vaccination rates are falling, and families’ visits to healthcare providers are still below pre-pandemic levels, influenced by vaccine hesitancy or loss of employment during COVID-19.
“Thanks to HHS’ action, families now have the opportunity to receive much needed vaccines from the healthcare practitioner of their choice, whether it is a pharmacist, physician, nurse or other appropriately licensed and trained healthcare practitioner. Pharmacists stand ready, willing, and able to work with our colleagues across the health care continuum to end this pandemic as soon as possible. Working together we can make a difference for our patients and communities during COVID-19 and beyond,” HHS said.