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Keep COVID vaccine out of discount stores and shopping centres: AMA says

The Australian Medical Association has called for COVID-19 vaccinations to be kept away from common community pharmacy locations.

In a release issued today (14 Jan), AMA President, Dr Omar Khorshid, did not refer to pharmacists by name, but said the vaccine should not be offered through shopping centres or discount outlets. 

The AMA were responding to yesterday’s announcement by Health Minister Greg Hunt outlining the Federal Government’s plans for the COVID-19 vaccine rollout. 

Mr Hunt said in an interview that the rollout would be “built around our general practices with support from our pharmacies”.

“Our general practices will commence when the AstraZeneca vaccine commences as part of Stage 1B. The pharmacies from phase 2 are expected to join,” he said.

Dr Khorshid said today that in the AMA’s view “the second phase, whichever vaccine is decided upon, must harness the long recognised expertise of GPs in delivering safe vaccinations in a medically-appropriate environment, not shopping centres or discount outlets”.

“GPs have a proven record in delivering vaccinations safely and effectively to their patients,” he said.

“This includes care in following pre and post vaccination processes, such as the high standards in recording of vaccinations.

“This will be critical because several COVID-19 vaccines are likely to be used and all those currently in development will require multiple doses, which will require careful recording on the Australian Immunisation Register.”

Responding to the AMA comments, a spokesperson for the Pharmacy Guild of Australia said “the proven record of pharmacist immunisers over the past five years also speaks for itself.

“The AMA needs to get with the program and put patients first.”

The AMA did “welcome the accelerated timeframe for the rollout of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, and the assurances that normal approval processes are being carried out.

“These processes will reassure the community that these are the safe vaccines that they appear to be,” Dr Khorshid said.

“The Therapeutic Goods Administration is yet to sign off on final approval for the Pfizer vaccine, and this process cannot be rushed.

“However, the initial rollout of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine to the highest priority groups- those that are most likely to be exposed to or become severely ill- will give them protection from infection”.

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