The Queensland branches of the Guild and PSA have teamed up to underline the critical role of community pharmacies as the COVID-19 vaccination rollout evolves
The two organisations say that as the vaccination program enters its subsequent phases, and is extended to all people above the age of 50, community pharmacy will be vital.
Ensuring as many Australians as possible access vaccinations is critical in the fight against COVID-19, they say.
However, many regional and remote communities do not have access to health services via hospitals or local GP clinics. Community pharmacies will be particularly critical in this regard to ensuring regional and remote communities in Queensland have access to the vaccines, the Guild and PSA say.
Acting president of the Pharmacy Guild’s Queensland Branch, Chris Owen, says that the need for community pharmacies to be involved in the COVID-19 vaccine rollout is vital nationally, but more acute in Queensland.
“Australia is one of the most decentralised nations in the world, and Queensland is even more so,” he says.
“This is why the Federal and State Governments should be commended for ensuring as primary healthcare providers, community pharmacies are part of the vaccination rollout from phase 2A.
“Not all Australians living in regional and remote areas may have access to a GP to get access to vaccinations, which is why it is so critical that all primary healthcare professionals are involved, and access to the COVID-19 vaccine is as broad as possible,” said Mr Owen.
“Community pharmacies are highly accessible with 97% of consumers in capital cities living within 2.5km of their local community pharmacy, and 65% in regional areas.
“Pharmacies are also the most frequently visited health destinations, and staff are well placed for significant interactions with members of the public.”
PSA’s Queensland Branch President, Shane MacDonald, says that the need for pharmacist involvement in the vaccination strategy is imperative to leading the state out of the pandemic.
“While some Queensland pharmacists in hospitals, Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisations (ACCHOs) and general practice are already administering COVID-19 vaccines, the majority of pharmacists are currently on the sidelines ready and eager to help,” he said.
“As the supply of the vaccine increases, patients need community pharmacists on board so that a lack of available providers does not become the next barrier in slowing the vaccine’s uptake.
“On Friday, the Department of Health advised that 4000 community pharmacies are suitable COVID-19 vaccination sites, so as soon as we get them started the better.
“Pharmacists have been successfully immunising in Queensland since 2014 and have been on standby for months to participate in the rollout strategy,” said Mr MacDonald.
“For several years, community pharmacies across Australia have been safely and intimately involved in the rollout of critical vaccination programs,” Mr Owen said. “The rollout of the COVID-19 vaccine is the most critical health initiative in our generation.
“From 3 May 2021, people above the age of 50 can receive a vaccine at Practice Respiratory Clinics and state and territory vaccination clinics. From 17 May 2021, people above the age of 50 can receive a vaccine at a participating general practice.
“Anyone administering a COVID-19 vaccine in community pharmacies will undergo training with the Australian College of Nurses on this specific vaccine.
“Given the need to vaccinate as many Australians as quickly as possible and the decentralised nature of our state, community pharmacies must be part of the solution.
“As front-line primary healthcare professionals with an extensive network across the length and breadth of Queensland, we stand ready to do our part,” Mr Owen said.