Federal government authorizes pharmacists to order, administer coronavirus tests

Federal government authorizes pharmacists to order, administer coronavirus tests
(WFTV.com News Staff)

WASHINGTON, D.C. — The federal government has authorized licensed pharmacists across the country to order and administer COVID-19 tests.

“Giving pharmacists the authorization to order and administer COVID-19 tests to their patients means easier access to testing for Americans who need it," U.S. Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Alex Azar said in a statement. “Pharmacists play a vital role in delivering convenient access to important public health services and information.”

HHS Assistant Secretary for Health, Dr. Brett Giroir, said the move was made to further expand testing capabilities.

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“The accessibility and distribution of retail and independent community-based pharmacies make pharmacists the first point of contact with a healthcare professional for many Americans,” Giroir added. "This will further expand testing for Americans, particularly our healthcare workers and first responders who are working around the clock to provide care, compassion and safety to others.”

Pharmacies big and small are now left to decide whether or not to participate.

CVS, the largest pharmacy chain in Massachusetts, opened a free, rapid coronavirus testing site in Lowell on Tuesday.

CVS also runs a drive-thru testing site for first responders in Shrewsbury.

Both sites had been operated mostly by MinuteClinic practitioners, but now pharmacists could be added to the mix.

“This is clearly a positive step and a recognition of the critical role that pharmacists play in our communities,” a CVS spokesperson told Boston 25 news. “[T]his decision allows us to rely on a much larger pool of health care professionals as we consider additional rapid-result testing sites.”

Boston 25 News also reached out to Walgreens, Walmart and Stop and Shop Pharmacy for comment.