Pharmacies are set to receive up to $42 per person for administering the COVID vaccine, as groups welcome the invitation to participate in the rollout
Community pharmacies are now invited to express interest in participating in Phase 2A of the COVID-19 Vaccination Program, following an announcement by the Health Minister on Sunday.
Greg Hunt issued a statement saying that an expression of interest (EOI) process is set to commence on Monday, 1 February 2021.
EOI documents are now accessible via the Pharmacy Programs Administrator website here.
“Community pharmacy will be an important partner in the rollout of COVID-19 vaccines,” Mr Hunt said in a joint statement with Pharmacy Guild national president George Tambassis on Sunday.
“Utilising the existing network of thousands of community pharmacies will ensure the general population have broader access to COVID-19 vaccinations, provide choice in where the community receive a vaccine, and address barriers to access some parts of rural and regional Australia.
“Participation in the program will be voluntary and pharmacies will need to demonstrate they meet the highest safety standards and have capacity and capability to deliver COVID-19 vaccines, as well as ensuring they continue to provide important services to their local communities.
“These standards have been informed by the expert medical advice from the Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (ATAGI).”
Mr Tambassis said that appropriately trained pharmacists are “ideally placed” to play their part in vaccinating the community against the novel coronavirus.
“Some 94% of pharmacies are members of the pharmacy profession’s quality assurance program, QCPP, and the robustness of this program underpins the sector’s ability to meet the challenges of the pandemic and the delivery of COVID-19 vaccinations, while maintaining the levels of service and medicine delivery critical to their role as frontline healthcare professionals,” Mr Tambassis said.
Community pharmacies will be incentivised to provide both doses of the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine to Australians wishing to be vaccinated, to ensure maximum uptake of the vaccine.
This incentive will come in the form of a payment of $16 per vaccination, plus another $10 on completion of an individual’s second dose – up to $42 per patient. Individuals will not be charged for the vaccine.
This will be the first time a national community pharmacy vaccination program will be rolled out funded by the Commonwealth Government, the Minister and Mr Tambassis noted.
The pair also spoke to reporters at a doorstop interview featuring pharmacy proprietor John-Paul Daggian, who told journalists that “I think nearly every pharmacy will want to be involved in this because we love our patients, we love our communities, we’re there for them and it’s a no-brainer, it really helps protect us all”.
“If it was anything like the 2020 flu vaccine, it’s going to go crazy,” he said.
A number of pharmacy groups welcomed the decision, with Pharmaceutical Society of Australia national president Associate Professor Chris Freeman saying that members of the profession are a vital link in delivering the COVID-19 vaccine.
“COVID-19 has dramatically changed our lives and pharmacists have supported our community on the frontline – I am confident community pharmacists will step up to join Australia’s vaccination workforce, just as they have done throughout the coronavirus pandemic,” A/Prof Freeman said.
“Including pharmacists in the National rollout is in the public interest, to increase public access to vaccines quickly while increasing vaccination rates and pharmacists stand ready, willing, and able to deliver COVID vaccinations to the Australian community.
“At the core of every pharmacist is the innate desire to help the public and participating in the COVID-19 vaccine roll out is yet another way the profession is able to do just that.
“PSA will be dedicated to supporting pharmacists to deliver the COVID-19 vaccine both safely and effectively to the public.”
Minister Hunt said they were working to ensure there was a suitable workforce “to administer the vaccines in an efficient manner, particularly to our priority groups including residential aged care, residential disability, and carers”, and pharmacists were a vital link in delivering the COVID vaccination program to Australians.
President of the Tasmanian Branch of the Pharmacy Guild of Australia, Helen O’Byrne, also welcomed the news.
“The Guild recognises that there are many logistic and operational aspects to be finalised however we are confident that Tasmanian community pharmacies stand ready to actively participate in the Federal Government’s COVID-19 Vaccination rollout program.”
Ms O’Byrne said that administering vaccinations is well within pharmacists’ scope of practise and she is proud of the work pharmacists have done over the past years to reach their current level of expertise.
Priceline Pharmacy also extended its support and commitment to the Federal Government in its decision.
Andrew Vidler, General Manager of Priceline Pharmacy, said the brand will participate in the program.
“In 2020, Priceline vaccinated more than 350,000 people against the flu alone.
“In 2021, we will comprehensively participate in the COVID-19 vaccination program and are confident of managing this task professionally and efficiently,” he said.
To qualify for the Government’s Phase 2 vaccination program, community pharmacies need to:
- Undertake mandatory training designed and provided by the Commonwealth;
- Provide the vaccine to members of the Phase 2 priority population, initially, continuing on to further priority groups sequentially in accordance with Australia’s COVID-19 vaccine national rollout strategy;
- Utilise an appropriately qualified workforce in accordance with jurisdictional requirements to administer the vaccine, which may include nurse practitioners, nurses and Aboriginal Health Workers;
- Have the ability to scale-up vaccination workforce and site with potentially short lead times.
- Engage with the National Booking System which is being established to provide a single point of entry to people who require vaccination;
- Meet the requirements as a COVID-19 vaccination site;
- Provide clear and accessible information at the community pharmacy for patients before, during, and after vaccination;
- Enter all vaccinations into the Australian Immunisation Register within an appropriate timeframe; and
- Be responsible for all on-premises clinical governance.