Pharmacy Vaccination FAQs

Are pharmacists authorized to administer immunizations in California?

Yes.  California law authorizes pharmacists to administer immunizations pursuant to a protocol with a prescriber (Business and Professions Code (Bus & Prof Code section 4052)).  A pharmacist may also independently initiate and administer vaccines listed on the routine immunization schedules recommended by the Advisory Committee for Immunization Practices (ACIP) for persons three years of age and older if they meet certain requirements (training, basic life support certification, recordkeeping requirements) (Bus & Prof Code section 4052.8 and California Code of Regulations (CCR), Title 16, section 1746.4). 

Is a prescription required when a patient is vaccinated in a pharmacy?

A prescription from a physician is not required for a pharmacist to administer an immunization. However, some pharmacies may have their own policies on prescriptions.  If medical providers write a prescription when referring a patient to a pharmacy for immunizations, it may facilitate administration and the pharmacist reporting the immunization to the primary care provider which is required by regulation (16 CCR section 1746.4). 

How old must a person be to be immunized by a pharmacist in California?

By California law, the patient must be at least three years of age if the pharmacist is  independently initiating and administering the vaccine pursuant to Bus & Prof Code section 4052.8, or of any age if the pharmacist is immunizing pursuant to a protocol with a prescriber (Bus & Prof Code section 4025 (a) (11)).

How does the primary care provider find out about his/her patients’ immunizations provided in a pharmacy?

Pharmacists are required to report any vaccine they administer into the California Immunization Registry (CAIR) and notify the patient’s primary care or prenatal care provider (if known) within 14 days (16 CCR section 1746.4).  Primary care providers can look up their patient in CAIR to see immunizations administered by pharmacists (and any other health care providers who use CAIR).  For more information on CAIR, see www.cairweb.org.  Pharmacists who administer vaccines are currently in the process of becoming CAIR users to comply with the new regulation.