Begin Main Content Area

Waiver Allows Some Retired Physicians and Nurses to Administer the COVID-19 Vaccine 

February 5, 2021

On January 28, 2021, the U.S. Acting Secretary of Health and Human Services issued a fifth amendment to the Declaration under the Public Readiness and Emergency Preparedness Act for Medical Countermeasures Against COVID-19 (PREP Act).

Section V of the PREP Act Amendment added additional categories of qualified persons authorized to administer COVID-19 vaccines in all jurisdictions where the PREP Act applies. Subsection (g) specifically authorizes physicians, advanced practice registered nurses, registered nurses and practical nurses:

  • who have held active licenses to prescribe, dispense or administer vaccines under any law of any state within the last five years, and
  • whose licenses are currently inactive, expired or lapsed, and
  • whose licenses, at the time of the lapse or expiration, were
    • active in good standing, and
    • not revoked, suspended, under investigation or on the List of Excluded Individuals/Entities

to administer COVID-19 vaccines without having to renew or reactivate their lapsed/inactive/expired licenses. Before administering COVID-19 vaccines, the amendment requires the former licensee to complete the Centers for Disease Control's (CDC) COVID-19 Vaccine Training Modules and be observed by a practicing healthcare professional who documents that the retired licensee is experienced in vaccination and is competent in the administration of the COVID-19 vaccine.

The PREP declaration preempts any Commonwealth law or licensing board regulation prohibiting a retired licensee who meets the requirements of Amendment V(g) from administering COVID-19 vaccines without a license.  

For the sake of clarity, the Department of State requested, and the Governor approved, a temporary suspension of the renewal and reactivation provisions set forth in 63 P.S. §§ 213, 271.3, 422.10 and 422.25 and 49 Pa. Code §§ 16.15, 21.131, 21.156, , 25.271, to enable physicians and nurses whose Pennsylvania licenses lapsed, expired or were inactive within the last five years to administer COVID-19 vaccines without reactivating or renewing their licenses, provided they meet the specific qualification requirements of Section V(g) of the amendment and document completion of the CDC's COVID-19 Vaccine Training Modules and the required observation set forth above.

This suspension applies solely to COVID-19 vaccines and shall last for the duration of the amendments to the PREP Declaration, or for the duration of the Governor's Disaster Emergency Declaration, whichever is longer, plus an additional 90 days thereafter, unless terminated sooner.