First pharmacists get jabs

Uyen Hua is vaccinated against COVID-19.
Uyen Hua is vaccinated against COVID-19. Image courtesy Alfred Health.

Pharmacist Uyen Hua is among the first Australian pharmacists to be vaccinated against COVID-19

Ms Hua will be working in the hotel vaccination program.

The Alfred and other stakeholders are speaking out about the initial stages of the vaccine rollout, celebrating the efforts of pharmacists and other health professionals – as well as their first vaccinations.

“Pharmacist Uyen just got her COVID-19 vaccination!” Alfred Health said in a tweet on Monday afternoon.

“She’s proud to [be] a part of the specialist team who’ll be vaccinating Victoria’s hotel quarantine staff – starting with the Health hotel this week.”


Another post from The Alfred notes that “Our nursing & pharmacy teams are really excited to be involved in the vaccine roll-out, helping to keep our most at-risk workers safe.”

Alfred Health staff are eagerly rolling up their sleeves as the health service assists with vaccinating frontline workers against COVID-19 this week, it said in a statement Monday.

On Monday 22 February, key workers from Alfred Health’s pharmacy and nursing teams were among the first in the state to be vaccinated.

These specially trained teams will go on to vaccinate staff working in Victoria’s hotel quarantine program, beginning with the Health Hotel this week.

The rollout, which Alfred Health describes as “highly complex,” has been designed to ensure staff who have the highest risk of contracting COVID-19 are vaccinated first. As a result, teams from The Alfred Intensive Care Unit and Emergency Department will be next on the list for vaccinations this week.

The Alfred pharmacy team received the first shipment of the Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine to their ultra-cold freezer on Sunday. From Monday, the team began working on preparing the syringes for nurses to administer – a role the specialised teams will perform on site in the quarantine hotels.

Director of Pharmacy, Professor Michael Dooley, said his team had been working around the clock to prepare for the arrival of the precious vaccine.

“We’re really happy to be involved with the vaccine program, and to assist in protecting our key frontline workers with the best defence we have against COVID-19,” Professor Dooley said.

“I’ll be very happy to roll my sleeve up when my turn comes.”  

Deputy Director of Pharmacy Erica Tong prepares syringes of the first COVID-19 vaccine
Deputy Director of Pharmacy Erica Tong prepares syringes of the first COVID-19 vaccine. Image courtesy Alfred Health.

Alfred Health Chief Executive, Professor Andrew Way, said the vaccine was highly anticipated among staff and would offer them an unprecedented level of protection against COVID-19.

“Throughout the pandemic, our staff have continued to support our community – in our hospitals, our clinics, and our screening centres. They’ve also supported aged care and continue to play a vital role in Victoria’s quarantine accommodation program,” Professor Way said.

“The vaccine is an incredible scientific achievement, and one that is sure to give healthcare workers greater confidence as they go about their work in the days and months ahead.”

Health industry members have taken to social media to celebrate the work of the pharmacists and other team members.

The Society of Hospital Pharmacists of Australia also issued a statement celebrating the efforts of all involved.

Many of these are SHPA members.

The AJP reported on the involvement of several pharmacists yesterday, including Dr Erica Tong, deputy director of pharmacy at The Alfred Hospital; pharmacist-in charge of the Northern Territory’s rollout, Bhavini Patel; and Branko Radojkovic, who demonstrated the preparation of a simulated vaccine to Prime Minister Scott Morrison at the Sydney Local health district vaccination hub in Camperdown, Sydney.

Meanwhile SHPA notes that The Royal Adelaide Hospital and Flinders Medical Centre in South Australia received their first 4,000 doses yesterday, with SHPA past-President Vaughn Eaton – Director, SA Pharmacy of the SA Local Health Network, and recipient of SHPA’s 2020 Medal of Merit award – helping ensure the vaccines were stored in special ultra-low temperature freezers in this SA Health video.

In Victoria, Tom Chynoweth, Deputy Director of Pharmacy at Monash Health in Victoria demonstrated how he and his team will ensure the Pfizer vaccine will be kept at minus 70 degrees, transferring the vaccine into the freezer in under 90 seconds, while Dr Erica Tong, 2020 recipient of SHPA’s Clinical Pharmacy Award – told The Age that she’s been practicing for months with her colleagues at The Alfred in Melbourne.


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