Wisconsin Pharmacies Ask State For Regulatory Reform To Help Distribute Coronavirus Vaccine

Recommendations Include Requiring Health Insurers To Reimburse Pharmacies For Vaccinations

A nurse gives a child a vaccine
In this Friday, May 17, 2019 photo, Starr Roden, left, a registered nurse and immunization outreach coordinator with the Knox County Health Department, administers a vaccination to Jonathan Detweiler, 6, at the facility in Mount Vernon, Ohio. Paul Vernon/AP photo 

Wisconsin pharmacists are asking state lawmakers and Gov. Tony Evers for regulatory changes they say will make it easier for them to distribute upcoming coronavirus vaccines.

On Nov. 20, the Pharmacy Society of Wisconsin sent a letter to the Republican-led state Legislature and Evers, saying pharmacists around the state are ready to help vaccinate millions of Wisconsinites once coronavirus vaccines get final approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

But Pharmacy Society of Wisconsin CEO Sarah Sorum told WPR’s “The Morning Show” there are regulatory hurdles that could make pharmacies a less viable option for people looking to get vaccinated. One example, said Sorum, is that current law doesn’t allow pharmacy school students to give vaccinations at pharmacies they work at until completing their second year of studies.

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“We think that student pharmacists are ready to do that right away, after they receive some additional training at the beginning of their four years or three years of study,” said Sorum.

Pharmacy technicians, who fill prescriptions but are not licensed pharmacists, can’t give vaccines either, said Sorum. The letter to the state Legislature asks that technicians be allowed to vaccinate people while under a pharmacist’s supervision.

The Pharmacy Society of Wisconsin is also asking lawmakers to require health insurance providers and state and federal Medicaid programs to reimburse pharmacies for vaccinations they give. Sorum said pharmacies have experience administering annual flu vaccines, but without proper reimbursement, people might not see pharmacies as a viable option for getting inoculated against the coronavirus.

“We want to be sure that all doors to immunization services are open, and that insurance policy needs to recognize pharmacists as providers of vaccines and have parity of reimbursement so that a patient can choose to go to their clinic, or they can choose to go to their pharmacy to be immunized,” Sorum said.

Sorum said the Pharmacy Society of Wisconsin has raised the same concerns with the governor.