As previously reported, APMA wrote a letter to the National Governors Association recommending that states authorize podiatric physicians to prescribe and administer the COVID-19 vaccine. Over the past month, APMA has worked with its state component societies to reach out to state policymakers. (For more information about APMA’s efforts and to learn more about the COVID-19 vaccine, visit APMA’s APMA COVID-19 resource page.) APMA has an updated template letter to help state components communicate with state policymakers.
Last month, President Biden’s administration released its “National Strategy for the COVID-19 Response and Pandemic Preparedness,” and APMA’s position is consistent with the administration’s recommendation to foster a surge in the health-care workforce to support the vaccination effort. Specifically, the National Strategy states:
A diverse, community-based health-care workforce is essential to an effective vaccination program. The United States will address workforce needs by taking steps to allow qualified professionals to administer vaccines and encourage states to leverage their flexibility fully to surge their workforce, including by expanding scope of practice laws and waiving licensing requirements as appropriate.
In implementing the National Strategy, the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) amended its declaration under the Public Readiness and Emergency Preparedness Act (PREP Act) on January 28 to add additional categories of qualified persons authorized to prescribe, dispense, and administer COVID-19 vaccines authorized by the US Food and Drug Administration. According to HHS’ press release, the amendment:
Subject to certain limitations, a covered person is immune from suit and liability under federal and state law with respect to all claims for loss resulting from the administration or use of a covered countermeasure (i.e., administration of the COVID-19 vaccine) if a declaration under the PREP Act has been issued with respect to such countermeasure.
Under this declaration, if a DPM holds an active license that permits them to prescribe, dispense, or administer vaccines (any type), they can provide the vaccine in any state as long as the DPM is not excluded from participation in Medicare, and the DPM has documentation of completion of the CDC COVID-19 vaccine training modules. If the DPM is not currently practicing (but holds an active license), the DPM must also have documentation of an observation period by a currently practicing health-care professional with vaccine experience who confirms their competency in preparation and administration of the COVID vaccine. Consequently, if a DPM does not hold an active license in any state that permits them to prescribe, dispense, or administer vaccines, then they do not have authority (or protection) under the PREP act to provide them in any state. For purposes of retired physicians, "physician" in the PREP Act is not defined, and while APMA strongly believes that all podiatrists are physicians, APMA is seeking clarification from HHS to ensure retired podiatrists are included in the definition of physician and can volunteer their services.
Questions about whether podiatrists are authorized to perform vaccinations in their state should be directed to the state health department or state licensing board. Read an HHS press release for more information and answers to frequently asked questions.
This resource is for information purposes only. APMA is not rendering legal advice and advises doctors of podiatric medicine to speak with an attorney duly licensed in their jurisdiction.