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A look at who is administering vaccines at pharmacies

More vaccinators are authorized to give you a shot at places other than a doctor’s office or medical clinic
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A vial of the PFfizer-BioNtech COVID-19 vaccine (Photo courtesy of Communications Nova Scotia)

Times have changed on the publicly-funded vaccination front.

The enduring health emergency prompted by the spread of COVID-19 in Nova Scotia means more vaccinators are authorized to give you a shot at places other than a doctor’s office or medical clinic.

For instance, if you’re going to a drug store for a dose of the anti-coronavirus vaccine or your annual flu shot, you could be getting an injection from a licensed pharmacist, doctor or nurse – or from a pharmacy technician, pharmacy intern or pharmacy student with documented competency in vaccination.

Drug store operators can “delegate the act of providing the injection” to a pharmacy student, intern or technician who has earned an injection permit, says Amy Wagg, communications director for the Pharmacy Association of Nova Scotia.

“To obtain this permit, (they) must have completed the full injection and immunization training course which includes all of the theoretical/clinical information as well as (have) the ability to demonstrate proper injection technique,” she said Monday.

Once they’ve passed the course, they need to get certified in first aid and cardiopulmonary resuscitation “and can then apply to the Nova Scotia College of Pharmacists for an injection permit,” Wagg told CityNews Halifax via email.

She said when students, interns and technicians are providing injections, “a pharmacist must be present” at the vaccination site “to answer questions and have discussions with the patient when they have indicated they have a potential allergy or a medical condition.”

The Nova Scotia Health Authority was asked about the use of unlicensed health-care providers, such as nursing and medical students, as vaccinators.

Spokesperson Brendan Elliott said the authority’s public-health teams don’t include any shot-giving students “at this time.” But they used to, he said.

“When we were at the height of the community immunization clinics, there were a number of students providing vaccines under the supervision of licensed health care workers ,” Elliott said in an email.

The provincial government declared a state of emergency, due to the presence of COVID-19, in March 2020 and it’s still in place.

A government news release last week said planning is underway in Nova Scotia to administer anti-coronavirus booster doses to more eligible groups, after the province adopted national recommendations.

Michael Lightstone is a freelance reporter living in Dartmouth


About the Author: Michael Lightstone

During a general-news career lasting close to 30 years, Michael LIghtstone has covered such things as politics, health matters, courts, labour issues and jazz concerts
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