Connecticut mulling whether medical assistants can give shot
Connecticut legislators were urged Monday to pass a bill that would allow certified medical assistants to perform vaccinations, with the Connecticut Hospital Association noting the “difficult undertaking of vaccinating every resident of the state” with the COVID-19 vaccine without more trained staff.
But the concept is receiving some pushback, especially from nurses, who question whether certified medical assistants are properly trained for the task and receive adequate oversight.
“Certified medical assistants are a valuable part of the health care team, however the administration of a medication requires more than technical skill of inserting a needle,” said John Brady, a registered nurse and vice president of the union AFT Connecticut, during a public hearing held by the General Assembly’s Public Health Committee. “It requires the ability to assess the patient before, during and after the administration of that medication.”
Brady noted that training for a certified medical assistant can vary greatly, from a high school diploma and one year of experience in a doctor’s office to an associate degree. Also, he said their certifications are not issued by the state and cannot be revoked, unlike state-licensed medical professionals such as doctors and nurses whose licenses can be revoked.
In written testimony, the Connecticut Hospital Association suggested that certified medical assistants first be required to complete a vaccination training program that has been approved by the state Department of Public Health commissioner.
“As the state and hospitals continue the difficult undertaking of vaccinating every resident of the state, hospitals and other health care providers will need a growing number of appropriately trained staff to administer the COVID19 vaccine,” the organization said.
Dr. Khuram Ghumma, the immediate past president of the Hartford County Medical Association and a primary care physician, said Connecticut is one of the only states that does not allow doctors to delegate the task of administering vaccines. He suggested “a few hours” of additional training in anatomy for the medical assistants would be needed, noting they would still be following the directions of a doctor who decides whether a patient should get a particular vaccine.
The bill awaits further action in the General Assembly’s Public Health Committee.