Pharmacy jab advice ‘puts people at risk,’ says doc

Queue of people in the street waiting outside Priceline Pharmacy
Image courtesy David Heffernan via Twitter.

Doctors have slammed a suggestion that the general public have their first dose of AstraZeneca vaccine with a GP, and the second with a pharmacist

On Tuesday, Queensland Health Minister Yvette D’Ath said that pharmacies could help boost vaccination rates by providing the second dose of AstraZeneca vaccine to partially-vaccinated people.

“We still believe that the pharmacies and our GPs are in the best position to roll out the AstraZeneca to the general population,” she said.

“If we can redirect second doses from GPs to pharmacies, we can free up a whole lot of booking spaces with GPs for those first doses.”

But doctors criticised the suggestion, with the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners saying it is advising patients to have both jabs at the GP.

The organisation’s Queensland chair, Dr Bruce Willett, told the Courier Mail that “This is bad advice and puts people at risk”.

“Doctors need to be able to check on the reactions to first dose and have a record of people’s medical records and that would include the timings of other vaccines like flu or shingles,” he said.

RACGP President Dr Karen Price said in a statement this week that it was unnecessary to change providers and that having both vaccines administered at the GP was important for coordination of care.

“It doesn’t make any sense to go to a separate provider and fragment care. General practices have the capacity to deliver both jabs and it makes the entire process more straightforward for patients. When you receive your first jab you can simply book in your second at the practice and put it in your diary.

“If a patient opts to receive their vaccinations from a pharmacy that is a choice they are free to make. This is a not a matter of us versus them and we have been clear on that throughout the vaccine rollout. What doesn’t make sense is switching between doses.”

She said that Ms D’Ath’s suggestion that people use pharmacies instead would contribute to confusion amongst patients.

Dr Maria Boulton, Chair of AMA Queensland Council of General Practice, told ABC Radio Brisbane said Ms D’Ath’s suggestion was impractical.

“When people come in for their first dose, we book their second dose,” she said.

“That way, it’s easily done and we know who’s coming. We also keep track of everything, and it’s all in their charts. So, for us, we would prefer that people come and get the second dose here.”

The TGA’s latest vaccine safety report, issued on Thursday, 5 August, noted that up until 1 August, around 12.4 million vaccine doses—8.4 million first doses and 4 million second doses—have now been administered in Australia.

The report confirmed that a 34-year-old woman from NSW died on Wednesday from confirmed thrombosis with thrombocytopenia syndrome, following a first dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine, and extended its condolences to her family and loved ones.

The TGA reported the rate of TTS following the AstraZeneca vaccine at 93 cases (57 confirmed, 36 probable) from approximately 6.8 million vaccine doses. 

As at 5 August, Queensland’s current COVID caseload stands at 79 cases.

On 4 August Chief Health Officer Dr Jeannette Young noted that there were 34 cases in people aged 19 and under, and warned that younger people were more at risk from the Delta variant of the novel coronavirus.

Meanwhile NSW recorded 262 new locally acquired cases of COVID-19 in the 24 hours to 8pm Wednesday night.

On Thursday NSW Health confirmed that five people with confirmed cases had died.

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