On April 14, 2023, the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced plans to amend the Public Readiness and Emergency Preparedness (PREP) Act declaration in order to allow pharmacists to continue to administer COVID-19 and seasonal influenza vaccines and COVID-19 tests even after certain products transition to traditional health care pathways. HHS Secretary Becerra intends to extend PREP Act immunity from liability to pharmacists, pharmacy interns, and pharmacy technicians through December 2024.
“This welcomed news provides timely clarification as the Public Health Emergency (PHE) is approaching its May 11, 2023 expiration date,” said Jason Ausili, PharmD, MSLS, Head of Pharmacy Transformation for EnlivenHealth. “The expansion will be key in ensuring that patient access to pandemic-related services is preserved, and that pharmacists, pharmacy technicians, and pharmacy interns have clear direction and coverage to take care of their communities.”
The PREP Act declaration has provided protection to manufacturers, distributors, and other organizations conducting countermeasure programs and providers administering COVID-19 countermeasures for the past three years. Many pharmacy organizations have been pushing for an extension to these privileges, and the National Community Pharmacists Association (NCPA) and the National Association of Chain Drug Stores (NACDS) have already released statements of support for the announcement.