Last Updated: Jul 10, 2020
Governor Wolf has granted a request from the Department of State to suspend the age limitation at which pharmacists may administer flu vaccines.
Under current law, pharmacists are authorized to administer flu vaccines to persons 9 years of age and older. The existing statutory age restrictions were put in place to ensure that possible adverse reactions to vaccines are appropriately managed and that a child’s primary care medical record is maintained accurately. Under this recent suspension by the governor, the age limitation has been reduced to persons 3 years of age and older.
While the Pennsylvania Medical Society recognizes the importance of vaccinating children against the seasonal flu, we believe this action was premature as there is no evidence that access to these vaccines will be limited. We are disappointed 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.
While we are cognizant of the current situation, Gov. Wolf should be working to ensure that primary care providers have the necessary PPE to provide life saving care to their patients – including vaccinating children.
While it is important for children to be vaccinated, it is critically important that vaccination information is communicated to a child’s primary care provider or pediatrician. More importantly, the governor’s waiver does not require pharmacists who administer flu vaccines to this population of children 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.
How Long Will the Waiver Be in Place?
This waiver will extend for the duration of the COVID-19 emergency plus an additional 90 days after the emergency ends. The waiver covers only influenza vaccinations. It does not apply to any potential COVID-19 vaccines or other childhood vaccinations such as the MMR vaccine.
View the waiver online here.