Call to expand vaccination services

With changes already underway in WA in the vaccination space, one stakeholder has called for pharmacy to be enabled to do more

From Monday 29th March WA’s Community Pharmacy influenza vaccination program for older adults will move from a trial to a program.

After three years working together, The Pharmacy Guild of Western Australia and the Health Department have recognised the outstanding success of the 65 years and over Pharmacy National Immunisation Program trial, says the Guild’s WA branch.

“This is further evidence that West Australians trust their local pharmacy to provide a safe professional immunisation service,” said Branch Director Matthew Tweedie.

“The Health Department have long understood the important role community pharmacy plays in helping West Australians access critical front line health services.

“[Premier] Mark McGowan’s West Australian Government has committed, in their second term, to work with the Guild to expand the role pharmacy is trained to play both in immunisation and primary health care services more generally,” he said.

“We look forward to working with the Premier, Health Minister Roger Cook and the WA Health Department to further leverage the WA pharmacy network that currently services one million West Australians every week.”

The Guild says that the COVID-19 pandemic has shone a light on the community pharmacy workforce’s capacity to contribute to public health.

Mr Tweedie said that when fear and uncertainty due to the pandemic became prevalent in 2020, community pharmacy remained open and in WA administered more than a quarter of a million safe [flu] vaccinations in the months of April and May alone.

The sector’s assistance included the delivery of lifesaving medications to more than 17,000 aged care residents and more than 15,000 home deliveries of life saving medicines to patients who could not or did not want to leave their homes.

Mr Tweedie noted that the “critical” methadone replacement program, which can only be provided if a pharmacy is open, helped up to 3,000 people every day of the week.

Community pharmacy has been asked to participate in the once in a 100-year Covid vaccination program later this year and planning is underway, he said.

To restrict West Australians’ access to the full potential of their community-based health network, open six to seven days a week in towns, cities, and regional centres from Esperance to Kununurra, the largest single health jurisdiction in the world, is unacceptable, the Guild said.

“It is time to ensure all Western Australians, no matter where they live, can access the services someone living in Canada or the USA can get, including any immunisation they need from their local community pharmacy.”

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