‘Saving and sustaining lives’

Pharmacists praised for role in Western Sydney vaccination centre, ensuring the quality and safety of up to 20,000 COVID-19 vaccine doses per day

Pharmacists have been playing a “vital” role at the Qudos Bank Arena Vaccination Centre, says the Western Sydney Local Health District.

A team of pharmacists and clinicians at the centre is responsible for carefully drawing up each dose into individual syringes to exact measurements, according to the Western Sydney Health’s publication, The Pulse.

They have been working to ensure the quality and safety of up to 18,500 COVID-19 vaccine doses per day.

Baxter Healthcare Compounding Services has been supporting the vaccination centre, located at Sydney Olympic Park, by overseeing the preparation of doses.

Project lead Deborah Murphy said: “I think I can speak for the whole of Baxter Healthcare when I say we are extremely proud to work alongside Western Sydney Local Health District and NSW Health in delivering COVID-19 vaccinations to the community.

“At the moment we are preparing over 10,000 vaccine doses a day, and we have the capacity for 20,000. It truly feels like we are on the frontline of saving and sustaining lives,” she said.

“What would typically be a four-hour turnaround from receiving to dispatch is done in 20 minutes. That is the speed we are working at to ensure we can vaccinate as many people as possible.

“Everything is being manufactured safely in accordance with the most rigid protocols in order to keep the community safe from this deadly virus.”

The pharmacy at the Qudos Bank Arena Vaccination Centre where Western Sydney Local Health District is working in partnership with Baxter Healthcare. Source: Supplied.

The pharmaceutical teams are reportedly on-site from 5am to 11pm every day, including weekends.

Over the course of these 18 hours, pharmacists prepare vaccines and are also trained in the process that see vaccines go from storage below zero degrees to being in the syringe and ready to administer.

Western Sydney Local Health District thanked Baxter Healthcare and its other partners in the mass vaccination exercise, including the NSW Police, NSW Transport, Western Sydney University, NSW Pathology and people coming forward for vaccination.

A pharmacist undertakes vaccine dose preparation training.

With pharmacists playing a key role at mass vaccination centres since earlier in the year, community pharmacists have been increasingly enabled to join the rollout over the past few months.

Community pharmacists have begun juggling COVID-19 vaccine administration alongside their usual dispensing and services—in addition to managing the many additional responsibilities brought on by the pandemic including PPE, regular testing, social distancing, checking in and contact cases.

Pharmacy Guild NSW branch president David Heffernan warned that the state “could suffer a workforce crisis”, with community pharmacies “enduring onerous conditions”.

However the demand for pharmacy COVID-19 vaccinations has been overwhelming and patients have been “so grateful” to get protected, said Western Sydney community pharmacist Alex Papadimitriou.

The rollout has ramped up with community pharmacies delivering up to 20,000 vaccinations per day across the board.

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