Connecticut Debates Whether Medical Assistants Should Give the COVID-19 Shot

Healthcare workers, especially nurses, in the US were in for shocking news as Connecticut legislators contemplated passing a bill that allows certified medical assistants to perform vaccinations. Regarding this and the COVID-19 vaccine drive, the Connecticut Hospital Association said that it’s a “difficult undertaking of vaccinating every resident of the state.”

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Nurses find this decision unbelievable because they question whether certified medical assistants have the required training for the task. During a public hearing held by the General Assembly’s Public Health Committee, a registered nurse and union AFT Connecticut Vice President John Brady said, “Certified medical assistants are a valuable part of the healthcare team, however, the administration of a medication requires more than technical skill of inserting a needle. It requires the ability to assess the patient before, during, and after the administration of that medication (sic.)”

Brady also added that a certified medical assistant’s training can vary significantly, ranging anywhere between a high school diploma and one year of experience in a doctor’s office to an associate degree. He further said that certifications of medical assistants couldn’t be revoked as they’re not issued by the state, unlike certifications of state-licensed medical professionals such as doctors and nurses.

The Connecticut Hospital Association, in written testimony, suggested that certified medical assistants undergo a vaccination training program approved by the state Department of Public Health commissioner. Concerning this, the organization said, “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.”

Dr. Khuram Ghumma, a primary care physician and the immediate past president of the Hartford County Medical Association, said Connecticut is one of the only states that restricts doctors from delegating the task of administering vaccines. He said that certified medical assistants would require additional training in anatomy, and they’d still be following the directions of a doctor who makes the decision of whether a patient requires a vaccine. The General Assembly’s Public Health Committee is yet to take further action regarding the bill.