Last Updated: Jul 10, 2020
Under current Pennsylvania law, pharmacists are not authorized to administer flu vaccines to children under 9 years of age. However, Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf recently waived this requirement under his COVID-19 emergency declaration.
The following is reaction from Lawrence John, MD, president of the Pennsylvania Medical Society (PAMED):
“PAMED is disappointed that Gov. Wolf waived this requirement.
Children under 9 are not little adults. They have unique needs that are best managed under the supervision of an appropriately trained physician. COVID-19 does not change that.
The law was put in place to ensure that adverse reactions to vaccines are appropriately managed and that a child’s primary care medical record is accurately maintained. The governor’s waiver has the potential to disrupt continuity of care, as it does not require pharmacists who administer flu vaccines to report it to the child’s primary care physician or to be available 24 hours a day in the event an adverse reaction takes place.
Primary care physicians and pediatricians are always available in these situations. At a minimum, Gov. Wolf should amend his order to reflect these important clinical safeguards.
PAMED believes this action was premature as there is no evidence that access to these vaccines in Pennsylvania will be limited during COVID-19. We are discouraged that the governor did not consult the health care community in making this change given that the request came from the state’s licensing authority.
This waiver will extend for the duration of the COVID-19 emergency plus an additional 90 days after the emergency ends. However, the order only covers influenza vaccinations. It does not apply to any potential COVID-19 vaccines or other childhood vaccinations such as the MMR vaccine.”
The following is a statement from Tracey Conti, MD, President of the Pennsylvania Academy of Family Physicians (PAFP):
“Child office visits, especially age 3-9, are often far more than just for flu shots, they also provide the opportunity for important health screenings, other vaccine updates, and unfortunately sometimes chances to identify child abuse. We need to think more broadly when it comes to children’s health, and this is a step in the wrong direction.”
About the Pennsylvania Medical Society
PAMED is a physician-led, member-driven organization representing all physicians and medical students throughout the state. We advocate for physicians and their patients, educate physicians through continuing medical education, and provide expert resources and guidance to help physicians and their organizations navigate challenges in today’s ever-evolving health care system. For more information, visit www.pamedsoc.org.
About the Pennsylvania Academy of Family Physicians
The Pennsylvania Academy of Family Physicians and its Foundation is a physician-led organization committed to advancing quality healthcare through advocacy, education, workforce development and commitment to the patients we serve. For over 70 years and with over 6,000 physician, resident and student members, the Academy and its Foundation’s core values are visionary leadership, integrity, and community.