Pharmacists can now administer monkeypox vaccine, HHS says

Five months after the U.S. first detected a monkeypox outbreak, and as health departments struggle to find enough supply of the world's only-approved monkeypox vaccine to meet the demand, HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra signed a declaration Sept. 30 to allow pharmacists to administer the shots. 

Mr. Becerra amended the Public Readiness and Emergency Preparedness Act, which was enacted in 2005, to authorize any pharmacist, pharmacy intern or pharmacy technician "who is licensed or certified" to administer orthopoxvirus vaccines and therapeutics, whether it's "intramuscular, intradermal, or subcutaneous injection, dermal/percutaneous scarification, intranasal or oral administration," according to an HHS document.

The American Society of Health-System Pharmacists has been advocating for this decision for months, and the ASHP met with the HHS' Office of the Assistant Secretary for Health Sept. 23 to urge the department to broaden the roles of pharmacists. 

"For both vaccines and therapeutics, time is of the essence, and pharmacists and their team are best positioned to quickly ramp up patient services," Tom Kraus, ASHP's vice president of government relations, said in a statement.

The American Pharmacists Association also applauded the decision, but because HHS did not mention reimbursement for this added role, interim CEO of APhA, Ilisa Bernstein, PharmD, said in a statement, "We have yet to see what plans are in place to ensure a sustainable model for pharmacists and pharmacies to offer the monkeypox vaccine and treatments."

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