‘This is a race.’

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

As community pharmacy passes a vaccination milestone, one stakeholder has put the last state to allow pharmacists to vaccinate adolescents on notice

Data from the Australian Immunisation Register shows that pharmacists have achieved another significant milestone – more than 500,000 COVID-19 vaccines – through community pharmacies.

This is in addition to the many thousands administered by pharmacists in vaccination hubs, General Practice and other settings.

Trent Twomey, national president of the Pharmacy Guild of Australia, told the AJP that the Guild had been liaising with the Prime Minister’s Office, the Health Minister’s office and state and territory governments “to make sure that’s five million, not five hundred thousand”.

“The Guild won’t rest until we hit the magic 80% mark, and states and territories can reopen,” he said.

Late last week, the Tasmanian Department of Health announced that pharmacists will be able to administer the Moderna vaccine to Tasmanians aged 12 and older.

Mr Twomey said that “We have one state yet to ensure it has the right legislative enablement – they know who they are – and they’re on notice”.

“They’ve got a couple of days to fix the problem before we start calling it out.”

He said that frontline community pharmacies are doing an “outstanding” job.

“They’re just heads down, bums up, doing the right thing on the frontline with little thanks and fanfare,” he said.

“I’ll be forever grateful for the work they’ve put in during this tough time.”

The National President of the PSA, A/Prof Chris Freeman, commended Australia’s pharmacist immunisers for their continued efforts, and welcomed the additional million doses of the Moderna vaccine, announced by the Morrison Government this week.

“In just a few short weeks, pharmacists have administered over half a million doses of the COVID-19 vaccine to Australians – and I applaud all of the country’s pharmacist immunisers for their dedication to protecting their communities, especially those in hotspot areas where the risk of exposure remains high,” Dr Freeman said.

“With Moderna becoming available exclusively in community pharmacies over the next few weeks, and with pharmacists now allowed to vaccinate those over the age of 12 with Moderna, we expect these numbers to grow rapidly.

“PSA commends Minister Hunt and the Morrison Government for securing an additional 1 million doses of supply, ensuring that the first group of approved Australian pharmacies are well stocked with Moderna in order to protect their communities against this disease.  

“As the data shows, pharmacists have put a significant dent in vaccination targets already – and with increased vaccine choice, they will play a significant role in further reducing the ambivalence and hesitancy amongst their local communities.

“As there is now a third of eligible Australian’s vaccinated with two doses, we have some way to go before we can rest easy, but I know the pharmacist profession is up to the challenge,” A/Prof Freeman said.

Mr Twomey told the AJP that the vaccination rollout was “a race”.

“The bit I love at the moment is the state rivalry that’s happening between my branches on who’s going to be first to hit the magic 80% mark – I’m thoroughly enjoying the friendly banter!”

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  1. Michael Ortiz

    I retired as a pharmacist last year and seven days ago I requested to be added to the Pandemic sub register to help a colleague give COVID vaccinations with the current push in NSW. To my surprise I received the following response AHPRA:

    “In April 2020, National Boards and Ahpra established a temporary pandemic response sub-register to help fast track the return to the workforce of experienced and qualified health practitioners in response to COVID-19. Practitioners who were eligible for the sub-register at that specific time were added. Practitioners have not been added after this date and there are no current plans to add any more practitioners.

    You can read more about the sub-register on the Information for practitioners page. If anything was to change, eligible practitioners would be contacted directly by email.”

    Why has the Board closed the sub register to new applications when the Guild response was:
    “it is unfortunate that the expansion to the 2020 pandemic sub-register is just for those who were eligible and chose to remain on the register, and not being open to practitioners who chose to opt out last year, or have since become eligible. We are certainly hearing that additional workforce is still required, especially in the outbreak areas.

    Information from Ahpra says that their decision has been at the request of the states and territories to help with the surge workforce. The Guild, through our role on the Ahpra Professions Reference Group, have also been advocating for this expansion, so the announcement was welcomed.

    Do Community pharmacists need help vaccinating or not?

    Is AHPRA out of touch with the Pandemic and current Pharmacy Practice ?

    • Michael Post

      Sorry Michael – you mustn’t be needed . The influx of pharmacists over the next X years that the Guild has advocated to have come in on the skilled occupation visa list will save us from coronavirus – when they eventually get here and qualify in a couple years.

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