Should Pharmacy Technicians Administer Immunizations?
Purpose. To describe the potential role for pharmacy technicians in administering immunizations – limited for this discussion to specifically inserting the needle into the patient’s arm and pressing down on the plunger – at the discretion of a supervising pharmacist as a way to enhance patient care and workflow efficiency.
Summary. Pharmacy technicians currently play an important role in facilitating pharmacy-based immunization programs. Technicians routinely perform non-clinical tasks related to pharmacy-based immunizations, though nearly all states prohibit technicians from administering vaccines. Several studies demonstrate that untrained laypersons can safely administer intranasal or intradermal vaccines, and laypersons routinely administer medications through intramuscular or subcutaneous routes (e.g., patients with diabetes or rheumatic conditions). It stands to reason that a trained pharmacy technician could perform comparably on these techniques that laypersons have mastered. One state has adopted rules to allow pharmacy technicians to administer immunizations if the technician has completed specific training on administration techniques and on basic life support. This task is performed at the discretion of the supervising pharmacist, and the pharmacist would still be responsible for clinical aspects of immunizing such as prescribing the right vaccine to the right patient. Additional considerations factoring into the decision as to whether or not to involve pharmacy technicians in immunization administration are also summarized.
Conclusion. If safety can be reasonably assured through training and supervision, it may be appropriate to delegate vaccine administration to appropriately trained pharmacy technicians. Such delegation may enhance workflow efficiency, which may confer added value for patient care and potentially improve access to community pharmacy-based immunizations.