On March 12, The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) added several new classes of professionals and students to its list of qualified persons that may serve as COVID-19 vaccinators pursuant to the Public Readiness and Emergency Preparedness (PREP) Act.
In its amended PREP Act declaration, HHS newly authorized the following providers to serve as vaccinators:
- Dentists, emergency medical technicians (advanced and intermediate EMTs), midwives, optometrists, paramedics, physician assistants, podiatrists, respiratory therapists, and veterinarians;
- Recently retired members of the above professionals and pharmacists, if they were in good standing upon expiration of their license; and
- Medical students, nursing students, and students of the other eligible health care professions with proper training and professional supervision to serve as vaccinators.
In previous amendments to the PREP Act declaration, HHS had included nurses, pharmacists, pharmacy interns and pharmacy interns in its list of qualified persons to administer COVID-19 vaccines.
The amendment to the PREP Act declaration also clarifies that observers should be experienced in administering intramuscular injections.
State preemption and liability protections
The declaration under the PREP Act preempts state laws that would otherwise prohibit such providers from administering a COVID-19 vaccine and provides certain liability protections.
“This amendment thus expands the pool of vaccinators to individuals who have or can obtain training and the capability to administer vaccines even if prescribing, dispensing and administering vaccines is not within the scope of their license or usual responsibilities, allowing states, territories, local areas and tribes to use these individuals in their vaccination programs,” states the HHS amendment.
“As qualified persons, these health care professionals and students in health care profession training programs will be afforded liability protections in accordance with the PREP Act and the terms of this amended declaration,” states the HHS amendment. “Second, to the extent that any state law that would otherwise prohibit the healthcare professionals and students in healthcare profession training programs who are a ‘qualified person’ from prescribing, dispensing or administering COVID-19 vaccines or other Covered Countermeasures, such law is preempted.”
Full details and requirements can be found in the HHS Seventh Amendment to PREP Act Declaration.
Additional information regarding federal expansion of eligible vaccinators can be found in this White House Fact Sheet
and the HHS COVID Vaccination Workforce page.
Contact WHA General Counsel Matthew Stanford
for more information.