Pharmacy technicians gear up to immunize

As pharmacists prepare for a surge in demand during this year’s flu season and the anticipated release of a COVID-19 vaccine, many state boards of pharmacy are engaged in discussions around allowing pharmacy technicians to participate in immunization administration, according to Ryan Burke, PharmD, director of professional affairs at the Pharmacy Technician Certification Board (PTCB).

“Several chain pharmacies are the driving force behind advocacy efforts in some states, arguing that pharmacy technicians will be critical to meeting the demand,” Burke said.

States that currently permit pharmacy technicians to immunize include Michigan, Idaho, Washington, Rhode Island, Utah, and Nevada. However, there are states where the language does not prohibit it. Information is changing quickly, but as of press time, Alabama, Arizona, Colorado, Illinois, Indiana, Massachusetts, Nebraska, New Mexico, and North Dakota were actively discussing allowing technicians to immunize.

“We have heard from pharmacists working in states that allow technicians to immunize that they now have more time to focus on the core pharmacy workflow, counsel patients, provide clinical services, and handle other issues that demand their time and attention,” said Burke. Patients spend less time waiting to receive immunizations, and the public benefits from having additional health care workers provide access to vaccinations.

“With pharmacists feeling overwhelmed by the increased workflow and demand, they can feel confident in technicians who have earned a credential in immunization to take on this role,” said Burke. He added that this will be one of the credentials PTCB will be releasing in the near future, and like its Assessment- Based Certificate Programs, employers will know the CPhT is qualified since it includes education and training.

“Expanding pharmacy technician roles to add immunizations not only provides an advancement opportunity, but also gives technicians a chance to build upon the great relationships that many of them have with patients,” Burke said.