Pharmacy’s COVID role continues to expand

pharmacist workforce people growing numbers

More than 100 additional pharmacies invited to join COVID vaccination program

The Queensland government has this week (on Wednesday 24 June), invited another 105 rural and regional pharmacies to join the COVID vaccination program.   

Speaking to AJP, Pharmacy Guild national president Trent Twomey said there were now a total of 372 pharmacies nationally that were already, or had been invited to become, active participants in the COVID vaccination program.

The invited participants have 1 week to accept the offer to become active in the program.  

Pharmacy’s participation in the vaccination program began in February when the federal government called for expressions of interest from community pharmacies to be involved with the vaccine rollout.

Approximately 3,900 of the 5,700 pharmacies nationwide were deemed “suitable”. However, an actual commencement of pharmacy’s role was then delayed. 

The Queensland government was the first state or territory jurisdiction to actually kick off pharmacist COVID vaccinations, announcing at APP2021 in May that it would begin an initial trial in around 50 rural and regional pharmacies.

Initially 56 Queensland pharmacies were extended an offer to participate, of which 49 accepted. 

Mr Twomey outlined the current situation in each state: 

  • Northern Territory – all pharmacies who applied have been offered an invitation
  • Western Australia – pharmacies graded at MM 4 and above have been invited
  • South Australia – pharmacies MM 2 and above
  • Queensland – pharmacies MM 3 and above
  • Victoria – about a dozen pharmacies have received an invitation 
  •  NSW – about 2 dozen pharmacies have received an invitation
  • Tasmania – nothing agreed as yet
  • ACT – none yet commenced as all ACT pharmacies are in MM 1 areas

“The only state that’s not sought to bring in pharmacy yet is Tasmania,” Mr Twomey said. 

“The state government has indicated its supportive of pharmacy involvement, but the bureaucracy has been the issue. The Guild is continuing to  represent for pharmacy involvement. But as yet, we’re still waiting.”

“The Guild is adamant that by the end of 2021, all Australians, will be able to access COVID vaccinations from a community pharmacy. The issue to date has been as much about supply issues as anything else,” he said.   

A NSW Health spokesperson told AJP: “NSW Health, in partnership with the Commonwealth Government, is continuing to work closely with the Pharmacy Guild and the Pharmaceutical Society of Australia to determine potential pilot areas that may be suitable for delivery of the COVID-19 vaccines by community pharmacists”.

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