“People have had enough,” says Trent Twomey as the Guild lambasts Australia’s COVID vaccine failure and calls for pharmacies nationally to be activated
Trent Twomey, national president of the Pharmacy Guild of Australia says he, like most Australians, is “exhausted and frustrated” by the botched COVID-19 vaccination rollout.
Speaking at a press conference in Melbourne on Tuesday, Mr Twomey said many pharmacists around the nation were “sick and tired of having their pharmacy bombarded by people who want to have their COVID vaccine, but can’t get it”.
“We’ve lost patience and had enough,” he said.
Mr Twomey’s ire was raised by the news Australia was planning to provide 20 million doses of the Astra Zeneca vaccine to Pacific Island nations.
While he understood the need to be a good neighbour and regional leader, Mr Twomey said the news did not sit well with him, or indeed with most Australians as the COVID vaccine program languished.
Australia was currently “dead set last” at the very bottom of the OECD nations for the speed of its vaccination rollout, with only 7.1% of the population vaccinated, he said.
“Of course we must support our neighbours, but first we have to get our own house in order,” he said.
“It is bewildering to see the Government happy to give away doses of the vaccine when it can’t even successfully organise to get the vaccine to its own people across Australia.”
“It’s a very strange day when the Pharmacy Guild – an employer group – is standing up here with the same view as the ACTU,” Mr Twomey added.
“We believe it’s up to the people of Australia to choose which vaccine they want to have. We believe that people have the right to talk to the medicines experts – pharmacists – about which vaccine is the most appropriate for them to use.”
With more than 3,900 pharmacies having been approved by to the Commonwealth to participate in the program, Mr Twomey said it was time for them to be activated, regardless of where they are, rather than the current approach of using pharmacy to fill gaps in rural and regional vaccination availability.
“They’re trained, they’re qualified, they’re trusted, they’ve got the infrastructure,” he said.
“The TGA has approved the AZ and Pfizer vaccines for all Australians,” he said. “We’ve had a fractured approach at the national level. We’re sick and tired of these so-called experts, the faceless men in the bureaucracy.
“There’s no hiding behind the national cabinet. Brendan Murphy [former Chief Medical Officer and current Secretary of the Department of Health] needs to step up. He needs to take responsibility for the blundered rollout.