On January 28, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced that it has amended the Declaration under the Public Readiness and Emergency Preparedness Act (PREP Act) to expand the types of providers that are qualified to prescribe, dispense and administer COVID-19 vaccines. Under the amendment, any healthcare provider that is licensed or certified in any state to prescribe, dispense and/or administer the COVID-19 vaccine is authorized to do so in any other state or U.S. territory. Further, any physician, registered nurse or practical nurse whose license or certification expired within the past five years may prescribe, dispense and/or administer the vaccine as long as the individual’s license or certification was in good standing prior to its expiration date. All healthcare providers that are authorized to administer the COVID-19 vaccine must also complete vaccine training through the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The PREP Act preempts any state law that would otherwise prohibit a healthcare provider from prescribing, dispensing or administering the COVID-19 vaccine if the individual is considered a “qualified person” under the PREP Act. In addition, under the PREP Act, qualified providers are immune from liability under federal and state law against claims arising from the manufacture, distribution, administration and/or use of covered medical countermeasures against COVID-19, except for claims involving willful misconduct.

HHS believes that this amendment to the PREP Act help meet demand for the vaccine as the supply of vaccines increases in the coming months.