- Expert Commentary
Is It Safe to Get Vaccinated at Pharmacies?
The following article is guest authored by Dr. Alexandria Yarborough, PharmD. She is a Pharmacy Manager in South Carolina and a Families Fighting Flu Advocate.
Many people aren’t fully aware of the training that pharmacists are required to have in order to administer vaccines not only to children but adults as well. Each year, pharmacists are required to take courses on immunization updates for both children and adults. These annual courses are in addition to the 20-hour course requirement from the American Pharmacists Association and bi-annual CPR requirements.
Last year, the Department of Health and Human Services amended the Public Readiness and Emergency Preparedness Act (PREP Act) to allow all state-licensed pharmacists to immunize children over the age of 3 to increase access to childhood vaccines and decrease the risk of vaccine-preventable disease outbreaks as children across the United States return to school.
Before the PREP Act, pharmacists could only administer flu shots to kids 12 years and older. Now they can handle all CDC-recommended vaccines for kids 3 and older*. The new directive takes a burden away from doctor’s offices, while also making things easier for patients during the pandemic as families don’t have to visit doctor’s offices and expose themself to potentially sick patients.
Note: Getting necessary vaccines at your local pharmacy doesn’t replace a trip to a pediatrician. A child’s primary care doctor must still make sure they are reaching their milestones, perform physical exams, and much more. The expansion of the act is to help assist doctors in providing care during these unprecedented times.
Common questions about vaccine administration to kids in pharmacies:
Q: Are the same vaccines that kids at the pharmacy have that they would get in the doctor’s office?
A; Yes. Pharmacies have the same vaccines that doctor’s offices have. They only vaccinate children for necessary shots according to the CDC immunization schedules.
Q: Are vaccine side effects the same in children as adults?
A: Generally, yes. Your child might notice pain at the injection site (upper arm) and could feel more tired than usual. Headache, achy muscles or joints, and even fever and chills are also possible. These side effects are usually temporary and generally clear up within 48 hours. Some vaccines have different side effects such as tetanus and HPV vaccines – your pharmacist or doctor can explain these specific differences.
Q: Can I give my child medication before or after the shot?
A; A dose of ibuprofen (Advil) or acetaminophen (Tylenol) can help a child with some of the soreness (or fevers) they may experience AFTER their vaccinations. It is best not to pretreat your child with oral pain medication, as those medications may reduce the immune response from the vaccine. Again, the best timing for a dose of oral pain medication is usually a few hours after the shot, and the medication can be continued for up to 48 hours if needed. Please discuss the dosing of these medications with the doctor or pharmacist.
*state regulations vary