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Efforts to Speed up Vaccine Access

In an effort to speed up public access to COVID-19 vaccines, Gov. Tom Wolf says pharmacists will be allowed to administer vaccinations without a physician’s order when vaccines are available to the public.

Gov. Wolf says he’s approved a temporary waiver for pharmacists who are licensed by the Department of State.

“Pharmacists, as well as pharmacy interns and technicians, are critical partners in the commonwealth’s plan to distribute the COVID-19 vaccine,” Secretary of State Kathy Boockvar said. “Many Pennsylvanians will go to their local pharmacy for vaccination. This waiver will enable pharmacies to offer the COVID-19 vaccines without a physician’s order.”

Pennsylvania pharmacists who meet certain training and requirements can already become authorized to administer injectable medications, biologicals and immunizations.

If a pharmacist already has that authorization, state officials say they’d be able to administer the COVID-19 vaccine to adults too.

Typically, some pharmacies enter arrangements with physicians so they can receive reimbursement for flu shots and other vaccinations, but many pharmacies don’t have arrangements with physicians.

Even the pharmacies that do have arrangements with physicians, have not had time to incorporate the COVID-19 vaccine into their arrangements, according to the Wolf administration.

This temporary waiver would let pharmacists order and administer the COVID-19 vaccine without such a provider agreement, state officials say.

“We are working on ways to increase access to the vaccine, and pharmacists already play an important role in making sure Pennsylvanians are protected,” Secretary of Health Dr. Rachel Levine said. “Pennsylvanians continue to play an essential role in preventing the spread of COVID-19 by masking up, washing up and socially distancing.”

Officials add that the waiver applies only to COVID-19 vaccines during the governor’s Disaster Emergency Declaration plus 90 days.

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