Pharmacy Interns Authorized to Administer Vaccinations

Interns seeking a pharmacy certification will now be allowed to administer vaccinations.

Thursday, Gov. Rick Scott approved Florida House Bill 279, which grants registered pharmacy interns permission to administer vaccines to adult patients under the supervision of a licensed physician.

The new bill is designed to remove training limitations during internship programs.

Restrictions require interns to complete a Board of Pharmacy-approved 20-hour course on safe and effective administration of vaccines. Also, interns will not be allowed to give vaccines that require additional certification, such as the yellow fever vaccination.

Vice President and CEO of Florida Pharmacy Association Michael Jackson, says allowing interns to give shots will enhance their experience.

“Because of the additional training, students will be more market ready and comfortable performing the task of giving shots once they become certified pharmacists,” Jackson stated. “On the other hand, having them do more complex activities requires the pharmacist they are working under to monitor them more closely – which could be a good thing.”

Prior to the bill, the first time a pharmacy intern could administer vaccines would be after their certification, where they would likely be working alone.

Briana Beard, a first-year Doctor of Pharmacy candidate at Florida A&M University from Tallahassee, Fla., says it would be beneficial to have training in giving vaccines. Interns will get the full experience of being a pharmacist, but she would only feel comfortable doing so if she completely understood the medications that were included.

“I like the idea of not being limited to just dispensing medication. As an intern I want to be able to get as much training as I can,” says Beard.

Brianna Lowe, a third-year Biology student at Florida A&M University from Orlando, Fla., says it is a great idea to teach students to administer vaccines because they can gain the knowledge needed for the next level of their career.

“Interns must have formal permission and be under the supervision of a doctor to give a vaccination, but a patient can refuse treatment from an intern,” said Lowe.

Mahogany Mitchner, a fourth-year Occupational Therapy student at Florida A&M University from Orlando, Fla., said she prefers regular procedures when receiving vaccinations.

“I would not feel comfortable having an intern practice giving shots on me,” says Mitchner. “I prefer to be treated by a doctor who has given shots before rather than by an intern who would be giving it for the first time.”

The new bill also extends the list of vaccinations that certified pharmacists may administer.

Pharmacists are now authorized to give all vaccinations listed in the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Adult Immunization Schedule, and Health Information for International Travel lists, and all other vaccines approved by the Board in response to a state of emergency declared by the Governor.

Legislative Analyst for the House Health & Human Services Committee Nicolette Castagna explained how Florida was behind with allowing interns to give vaccinations.

“We want to align Florida with the majority of other states. Most states allow pharmacists to administer all CDC-recommended vaccines and Florida was behind on that,”said Castagna. “Only five states in the U.S. do not allow pharmacists to administer all CDC-recommended vaccines.”