Australian-first onsite school COVID-19 vaccination program commences in FNQ
Queensland’s push to increase vaccination numbers amongst school-aged Australians has been boosted by the commencement of an Australian-first program.
Similar to other school-based vaccine programs, this program empowers community pharmacies to deliver vaccination services to students aged 12 and above in the familiar environment of their own school.
The program commenced on Wednesday at St Monica’s College in Cairns, with community pharmacists delivering the first doses to Year 7 students onsite.
“Schools will play such an important role in making this vaccination program a success. This program will deliver thousands of Moderna COVID-19 vaccines to students across FNQ in the coming months,” said National President of the Pharmacy Guild of Australia, Adjunct Professor Trent Twomey.
The Hon Warren Entsch MP, Member for Leichardt, The Pharmacy Guild of Australia’s National President, Trent Twomey, and Chair of the North Queensland Primary Health Network, Nick Loukas, joined St Monica’s College Principal, Edna Galvin, onsite to launch the program.
Adjunct Professor Twomey said he has been delighted with the enthusiastic registration for the program in Far North Queensland and hinted that a successful roll out could see it replicated in other regions.
“Community pharmacists are one of the most trusted professions and clearly there is great confidence in the Moderna vaccine and the primary health care professionals administering it,” he said.
“It is exciting for Queensland schools to be at the tip of the spear in the fight against COVID-19 and if we see continued strong appetite for this program, we would love to see it replicated in other states and territories in the future.”
Adjunct Professor Twomey also endorsed legislative changes allowing community pharmacists to expand their services to onsite school vaccination clinics, believing this initiative could bring protection to an age group that can be particularly difficult to reach.
“Providing greater access to vaccination services for young Australians has been a focus area for community pharmacies. This innovative program empowers community pharmacists to deliver world-class primary health care to school-aged patients in a safe and accessible way,” he said.
As with other common vaccination programs for children under the age of consent, parental or guardian approval for the FNQ COVID-19 School Vaccination Program was captured in advance.
Health assessments were also undertaken for participating students to provide both vaccinator and patient with the assurances required for vaccination to proceed and appropriate post-vaccination observation and care to be applied.
“All our vaccinating pharmacists are highly trained and qualified practitioners having undergone the exact same training as other doctors and nurses giving vaccinations,” Adjunct Professor Twomey said.
“These onsite clinics provide another avenue for young Queenslanders to protect themselves, their families and the broader Far North Queensland community during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.”
The program is developed by The Pharmacy Guild of Australia, Queensland Branch, and supported by the Queensland Department of Health.
The FNQ COVID-19 School Vaccination Program is currently only servicing the Far North Queensland region.