ARLINGTON, Va. — The National Association of Chain Drug Stores (NACDS) is welcoming the Biden Administration’s announcement of operational planning for COVID vaccinations for children ages 5-11 – should the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) authorize and recommend a vaccine for this age group.
The newly announced plan would help ensure that eligible individuals can equitably and efficiently access COVID vaccines at local pharmacies in the days following a CDC recommendation.
“We are extremely supportive of the thoughtful plan that the Biden Administration has laid out to help ensure that the nation’s children can quickly and conveniently be vaccinated and protected against the COVID virus,” said NACDS president and CEO Steven Anderson. “These important planning actions by the federal government will help ensure that pharmacies – the most accessible healthcare destinations in the country – are ready to continue to meet the needs of the American public when the time comes and when the science confirms that COVID vaccines for that age group are safe and effective.
“We thank the Biden Administration for their ongoing collaboration and leadership and for continued dialogue surrounding NACDS’ recommendations for pre-planning so that systems and operations within the pharmacy setting are prepped and equipped as more populations become eligible for COVID vaccines.
“Pharmacies remain critical access points in the ongoing vaccination effort and, as the 2021-2022 flu season persists, pharmacies continue to meet the nation’s preventive care vaccination needs, all in one visit. Thanks to the federal government’s proactive planning efforts, pharmacies will stand ready to provide vital access to COVID vaccines for children ages 5-11 – when authorized and recommended to do so.”
For children and adolescents ages 3-18, the Public Readiness and Emergency Preparedness Act (PREP Act) empowers pharmacists in all 50 states to order and administer all Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP)-recommended routine and catch-up vaccinations, and for those ages 3 and up, COVID vaccinations. The PREP Act also authorizes pharmacy technicians and interns to administer these vaccinations to the same populations.
Today, in anticipation of the FDA’s independent advisory committee meeting on October 26 and the CDC’s independent advisory committee meeting on November 2-3, the Biden Administration released a fact sheet with the following steps to help ensure that – if a vaccine is authorized and recommended for children ages 5-11 – pharmacies, among other healthcare destinations, are prepped and ready to go:
- The Biden Administration will make vaccinations “accessible and conveniently located to families across the country, including vaccination clinics at doctors’ offices, hospitals, pharmacies, community health centers, and school- and community-based sites.”
- As part of the Federal Retail Pharmacy Program, “tens of thousands of pharmacies across the country will offer the vaccine to their local communities. Pharmacists are a trusted source of information for parents, and local pharmacies will be a convenient, accessible option for many families. Pharmacies will offer family-friendly in-store clinics to best meet the needs of local communities. And, pharmacies will offer vaccinations at convenient hours for kids and their parents – allowing for advanced appointment scheduling and walk-ins wherever available. Pharmacy partners will launch comprehensive campaigns to reach parents and families, including texts, calls and outreach to meet local communities where they are.”
- The Biden Administration has procured enough vaccines to support vaccination for the country’s 28 million children ages 5-11 years old. If authorized by the FDA and recommended by the CDC, the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine for 5-11 year olds will be a dose and formula specifically for this age group. Additionally, the vaccine will have packaging available in a smaller configuration and will come with all the ancillary supplies that providers need to serve children — including smaller needles.
- To ensure that parents have the information they need to make informed choices for their families, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) will conduct a national public education campaign to reach parents and guardians with accurate and culturally-responsive information about the vaccine and the risks that COVID poses to children.
Since the very beginning, NACDS has worked closely with federal and state governments on the COVID response and pharmacies’ critical role in it, communicating to these government decision-makers what is needed from operations to public messaging and more.
Most recently, NACDS and Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security released a health equity report that describes pharmacies’ success before and during the COVID pandemic in confronting health inequities and disparities, and that issues recommendations for legislative solutions that will help further progress in this critical area.