NEWS

Who Can Administer COVID-19 Vaccines?

senator receives vaccine from nurse in Florida

Joe Raedle / Staff / Getty Images

Key Takeaways

  • COVID-19 vaccines are being administered by a variety of healthcare professionals including doctors, nurses, pharmacists, physicians assistants, and pharmacy technicians.
  • Each of these professionals receives training on how to administer the vaccine and how to manage very rare side effects of the vaccines. 
  • Read up on the vaccine and ask your doctor about anything that concerns you before it comes time for your vaccination appointment. The health professional administering the vaccine will be concentrating on safely getting into your arm and monitoring for rare side effects and won’t have time, in most cases, to answer your general questions.

News footage these last few weeks has focused on healthcare workers getting the COVID-19 shot in the arm of their choice. But just who is doing the vaccinating? 

The answer is a variety of health professionals, some trained and deputized by states specifically for the current health emergency. “Don’t worry about who’s giving you your shot anymore than you might have for any other vaccine,” John Sanders III, MD, MPH, chief of infectious diseases at Wake Forest Baptist Health in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, tells Verywell. “They have been trained and certified to give you the shot expertly.” 

Even before COVID-19, states determined which healthcare professionals could give vaccinations. Some allowed pharmacists and pharmacy technicians, and others did not. “But with COVID, it’s all hands on deck for vaccination,” Claire Hannan, MPH, the executive director of the Association of Immunization Managers, tells Verywell. Hannan says that because of the current COVID-19 public health emergency, “states can pass orders that allow providers who might not typically be vaccinators in a state to give the COVID-19 vaccine.” 

According to the American Public Health Association, professionals who will be able to administer the COVID-19 vaccine include:

  • Nurses
  • Nurse practitioners
  • Doctors
  • Students in health professions
  • Physician assistants
  • Pharmacy technicians
  • Veterinarians (who routinely administer shots to animals)
  • Dentists
  • Medics
  • EMTs 

Physicians say relying on these health professionals is exactly the right way to get the vaccines administered. “I’ve given exactly one vaccine in my career, so you wouldn’t want it from me,” Amesh Adalja, MD, senior scholar at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health Center for Health Security, tells Verywell. “People getting the vaccine should feel very confident in the professionals administering them who have been trained to give the shots.” 

How People Become Trained To Administer Vaccines

Health professional associations, such as the National Pharmacy Technician Association (NPTA), have been providing training programs to get their members ready. 

“While pharmacy technicians have been authorized to administer vaccines in a handful of states prior to this, overall, it will be a new scope of practice for many of them,” Mike Johnston, CPhT, CEO of NPTA, tells Verywell.

Pharmacy technicians and interns have been authorized to administer vaccines under the PREP (the Public Readiness and Emergency Preparedness) Act. This act will vastly expand the availability of trained professionals who can administer vaccinations to the hundreds of millions of people who will be getting the shot, says Johnston, whose association is providing in-person training to as many as 200,000 pharmacy technicians. Pharmacy technicians will frequently be the professionals giving the vaccine in long-term care facilities and chain pharmacies such as Walgreens and CVS. 

“We’re prepared to play a critical role in the vaccination process utilizing our vast experience and army of trained healthcare professionals,” Joe Goode, senior director of corporate communications for CVS, tells Verywell. 

There are several parameters for pharmacy technicians and students/interns being allowed to administer the COVID-19 vaccines:

  • The vaccination needs to be ordered by the supervising qualified pharmacist, who must be on site to assist the technician if needed.
  • The vaccine must be FDA-authorized or FDA-licensed.
  • The qualified pharmacy technician or state-authorized pharmacy intern must complete a practical training program that includes a hands-on injection technique and the recognition and treatment of emergency reactions to vaccines. 

According to Johnston, studies done in states where pharmacy technicians have been previously allowed to administer vaccines show no vaccination errors.

You can see what people training to administer the COVID-19 vaccines are learning in this online training module created by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Your Vaccine Appointment Is Not the Time For Questions 

While the training for people administering COVID-19 vaccines includes detailed information on the benefits and risks of the vaccine, medical and public health experts urge people to ask all of their questions before arriving to get their vaccine. 

“The logistics of getting the vaccine to hundreds of millions of people requires that we do this efficiently, expertly, and quickly,” Sanders says. “The best time to read up on the vaccine is before you sign up for the shot.” 

Leana Wen, MD, MSc, an emergency physician and visiting professor of health policy and management at the George Washington University Milken School of Public Health, agrees.

“Be certain you have all your questions answered before getting in line for the shot,” Wen tells Verywell. She explains that while the person administering the shot will be an expert, you should discuss any individual concerns with your own primary care provider. “[The vaccine technician] does not know you or any health conditions that you may have wanted to discuss with your doctor before getting the shot,” Wen says.

What This Means For You

Healthcare professionals across the country are being trained to administer the COVID-19 vaccine. It’s important to know their focus will be on administering the vaccine and monitoring for side effects, not answering all of your questions. Educate yourself about the vaccine and whether it’s appropriate for you before you make an appointment.

The information in this article is current as of the date listed, which means newer information may be available when you read this. For the most recent updates on COVID-19, visit our coronavirus news page.

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  1. Adams AJ, Desselle SP, McKeirnan KC. Pharmacy technician-administered vaccines: on perceptions and practice realityPharmacy (Basel). 2018;6(4):124. Published 2018 Nov 29. doi:10.3390/pharmacy6040124