Today, the Department of Health & Human Services (HHS) announced that it would be extending certain authorities, and corresponding liability protections, for pharmacists, pharmacy technicians, and pharmacy students authorized under the Public Readiness and Emergency Preparedness (PREP) Act until December 2024. As requested by ASHP and other pharmacy organizations, the agency stated that it plans to extend the following authorities until December 2024:
- PREP Act authority for COVID-19 tests, vaccines, and treatments ordered, dispensed, and/or administered by pharmacists, pharmacy technicians, and students that are distributed by the federal government. The agency may extend coverage even after products are fully commercialized (e.g., available for purchase commercially). ASHP will update members as this issue develops.
- PREP Act authority for COVID-19 and influenza immunization for adults and children ages 3 and up provided by pharmacists, pharmacy technicians, and pharmacy students.
HHS noted that the extension of authorities would not only help ensure patient access, but also provide states with additional time to change their own regulations to allow continuation of these services after PREP Act coverage expires.
“ASHP appreciates HHS’s recognition of the key role the pharmacy workforce plays in protecting our nation’s public health,” said Tom Kraus, ASHP vice president of government relations. “We look forward to continuing to work with them through the public health emergency wind down, and into the future, to empower pharmacists to better serve our patients.”
The agency also noted that it will be rolling back elements of other PREP Act declarations once vaccines are commercialized, including:
- PREP Act flexibility allowing recently retired clinicians and those with recently expired licenses to prescribe, dispense, and/or administer COVID-19 vaccines; and
- PREP Act authorities allowing clinicians licensed in one state to provide COVID-19 vaccinations in any state.
HHS also stated that the PREP Act authorities allowing pharmacists, and pharmacy technicians and students supervised by a pharmacist, to provide routine childhood vaccines will end when the public health emergency ends.
In today’s announcement, HHS indicated that it will be publishing a new PREP Act declaration memorializing these changes and their respective timelines. ASHP will update members when the new declaration is published and provide additional detail as it becomes available.