Key points to remember
- Children from the age of 6 months can now get vaccinated against COVID-19.
- The PREP law allows pharmacists in all 50 states to administer vaccines to children between the ages of 3 and 18, although specific pharmacy chains can decide at what age they feel comfortable vaccinating.
- Twenty-three states allow pharmacists to administer vaccines to children under age 3.
Nearly 18 million more children are now eligible for COVID-19 vaccines.
Now that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has authorized Pfizer and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines for children as young as 6 months old, parents and caregivers can start making appointments for vaccines. But the question is: where?
Pediatricians can administer the vaccine, but getting an appointment can take some time. Many parents wonder if local pharmacies offer vaccines for young children and if this setting is safe.
Currently, whether or not a child can be vaccinated at a pharmacy depends on their age and condition. Here’s what you need to know.
The pandemic has expanded access to vaccines in pharmacies
Historically, state law decided whether a pharmacist could administer vaccines. In 2009, all 50 states were on board with pharmacy vaccination programs (Maine was the last state), but only 28 states allowed pharmacists to vaccinate children.
This changed in 2020 at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, with the passage of the Public Preparedness and Emergency Preparedness (PREP) Act. PREP has given pharmacies in all 50 states the ability to administer vaccines to children as young as 3 years old without fear of liability. Currently, according to the American Pharmacists Association and the National Alliance of State Pharmacy Associations, 27 states allow pharmacists to vaccinate children under the age of three.
“Pharmacies may offer the COVID-19 vaccine for children under 5, but each chain varies by the age they serve,” Jennifer Kaufman, MD, pediatrician at Stanford Children’s Health, told Verywell by e. -mail. “Some places may be able to vaccinate children as young as 18 months old. Young babies will likely need to be vaccinated at a doctor’s office. »
Are vaccinations in pharmacies safe?
Pharmacists are well placed to administer vaccines. However, vaccinating children is a little more tricky than vaccinating adults, largely due to the management of vaccine hesitancy and anxiety in children and parents.
The good news is that pharmacists and pharmacy interns receive extensive training in vaccinations, which is required by law for both children and adults. It is up to the specific pharmacy chain to determine at what age they feel comfortable vaccinating and which vaccines they administer.
According to the PREP law, state-licensed pharmacists and supervised pharmacy interns must meet the following requirements before participating in a pharmacy vaccination program:
- Complete a practical training program of at least 20 hours approved by the Accreditation Council for Pharmacy Education (ACPE) that includes practical injection technique, clinical evaluation of vaccine indications and contraindications , as well as the recognition and treatment of emergency reactions to vaccines
- Have an up-to-date CPR certification
- Complete a minimum of two hours of ACPE-approved continuing pharmacy education specifically related to vaccinations during each state licensing period
- Comply with documentation and record keeping requirements, including entering the record into the national or local vaccine registry when available
- Educate parents of children on the importance of child health visits with a pediatrician and issue a referral as needed
- Administer only FDA-approved vaccines listed in the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) immunization schedules
The benefit of going to a local pharmacy for childhood vaccinations, including the COVID-19 vaccine, centers on convenience. Many offer evening, weekend, and walk-in appointments, which are not usually available in a doctor’s office.
“I plan to get my 3-year-old vaccinated at a pharmacy,” Sarah Thompson, a mother of two from Reno, Nevada, told Verywell. “I was able to get my eldest son vaccinated while we were shopping. It was so easy and convenient.
Benefits of going to a pediatrician
While it’s convenient to go to a pharmacy to get your shot, there are several benefits to getting your shot from your local pediatrician or another doctor’s office.
Kaufman suggests that pediatricians’ offices are always a good option for vaccination appointments because:
- They have extremely experienced staff in vaccinating all ages including babies
- Offices are child-friendly and offer a private space
- Pediatricians’ offices are used to administering a wide variety of vaccines and understand the different doses based on age
- Your pediatrician knows your child’s health and medical history
“I plan to have my 1-year-old daughter vaccinated against COVID during her health visit,” Steven Goldberg, a dad from Northern California, told Verywell. “We have a wonderful relationship with her pediatrician and she feels good there.”
Not all pediatricians are thrilled with the idea of pharmacies vaccinating their young patients. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) thinks allowing pharmacists to administer vaccines to children is a mistake.
“This unprecedented expansion of the ability of pharmacies to administer vaccines to children is not a solution to the vaccine hesitancy that is driving down childhood immunization rates in the United States,” said the president of the AAP, Sally Goza, MD, FAAP, in a press release. “Many parents have questions about their children’s vaccines and pediatricians are ready to talk to them. It’s what we do, every day, one-on-one with thousands of parents, as part of the long-term relationships of trust that families have with their doctors.
For people living in rural communities, in-pharmacy vaccinations might not be available, so in-office vaccinations by a family doctor might be the only option.
Will pediatricians have enough supplies?
To prepare for FDA emergency use authorization, the Biden administration has prepared 10 million doses of vaccines for young children ready for pre-order for states, pediatricians, tribes, territories, community health centers and federal pharmaceutical partners. However, the way the vaccine doses are packaged this time around might make some pediatricians hesitant to carry it.
The COVID-19 vaccine for children under 5 comes in vials containing 10 doses each, which means that when one dose is given, another nine children must receive a dose within 12 hours, otherwise the vial is lost. This can be a real challenge for a medical practice, which may not need to vaccinate so many children against COVID in one day.
If you’re hoping to have your child vaccinated by their pediatrician, call ahead to make sure the vaccine is in stock.
Most parents have a choice
Ultimately, parents have a choice when it comes to getting their young children vaccinated against COVID-19.
If you plan to have your child vaccinated at a local pharmacy, be sure to call and ask if they give vaccines to young children. Most states have websites set up for online dating.
It is important to keep up to date with all childhood vaccines, especially for the upcoming school year. If you choose to have your child vaccinated against COVID-19 at their pediatrician’s office, be sure to ask them if they should receive additional shots, eliminating the need for another visit later.
What this means for you
Parents can decide whether they want their child to be vaccinated in a pharmacy or in a doctor’s office. Although pharmacies offer convenient hours and walk-in appointments, not all states allow pharmacies to vaccinate young children. The pediatrician’s office is a familiar space, with experienced staff who understand your child’s health and medical history. Call your local pharmacy ahead of time to see if given vaccines to young children.
The information in this article is current as of the date indicated, which means that more recent information may be available when you read this. For the most recent updates on COVID-19, visit our coronavirus news page.