Be aware of your responsibilities


PDL issues latest advice for pharmacists on COVID-19 vaccinations, covering risk assessment and informed consent

PDL has previously released Practice Alerts on COVID-19 vaccinations, including:

The alert sent to PDL members on the 7 July stated the advice was current as of that date and reminded pharmacists of the need to remain up to date regarding changes to State, Territory and Commonwealth information on this practice.

“Since that alert was released, regulations and advice have continued to change,” said PDL.

PDL encourages pharmacists to frequently check the regulations and guidelines from their state and national government health departments and seek support from professional organisations and banner group management.

PDL has previously confirmed the PDL Master Policy provides cover for COVID-19 vaccination when a member pharmacist takes reasonable steps to understand and comply with the obligations that are placed on them by government-approved protocols.

This includes – but is not limited to – government-approved training, standards, directives, clinical guidelines and recommendations for the administration of vaccine, which are applicable at the time of providing the vaccine.

“PDL understands pharmacists are struggling to keep up to date with information regarding vaccinating with AZ vaccine,” it said.

However, it added that the advice provided to PDL members on 7 July still stands and is repeated here:

When considering vaccination with AZ vaccine for patients under 60 years of age, pharmacists should satisfy themselves of the following:

  • The Pfizer Comirnaty vaccine is not available to the patient.
  • The benefits to the patient are likely to outweigh the risks.
  • The patient gives informed consent to the vaccination knowing the risks.
  • State legislation permits pharmacists to vaccinate in this age range.

ATAGI guidance also indicates that pharmacists can administer the second dose of the AZ vaccine if the patient had no reactions to the first dose.

PDL provided several further points of consideration.

Be mindful that as pharmacists we are responsible for our own decision-making as an autonomous practitioner.

“Should you feel that a patient needs to be referred then document the reason and refer them,” PDL said.

“Some online booking systems do not record the age of the patient. Should you have a younger patient requiring more time to discuss risk assessment, then it is ideal to have this conversation before they arrive at the pharmacy. You may wish to triage these patients and ask a pharmacist to contact them prior to their booking.”

PDL emphasised: “informed consent is more than a yes or a no – it is a conversation”. More resources on informed consent can be found here.

“Each patient will require an individual risk assessment prior to the decision to vaccinate. Clinical judgment and documentation will be required to determine suitability,” it added.

As the information on this issue continues to change, PDL reminds vaccinators to refer to the current guidance documents for consumers, primary care and hospital settings when discussing any aspect of COVID-19 vaccination.

Pharmacists are responsible for ensuring their understanding of the guidelines and the advice is current.

An example of a recently updated guidance document is the following reference to benefit versus risk: Weighing up the potential benefits against risk of harm from covid-19 vaccine -AstraZeneca 29.6.21

Other useful resources from ATAGI may be found via the following links:

Note: This advice is based on information available as of 4 August 2021 and may be superseded at any time after this date. It is your responsibility to validate information at a later date.

For immediate advice and incident support, call PDL on 1300 854 838 to speak with a Professional Officer 24/7, Australia-wide.

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