Some pharmacies ‘very disappointed’ at missing out


Eight pharmacies in regional Victoria have started vaccinating for Covid-19, with seven outer metro pharmacies including two Chemist Warehouses to join them

The Commonwealth has given the green light for seven outer metropolitan pharmacies in Victoria to administer the COVID-19 AstraZeneca vaccine, although several pharmacies in the same locations are “very disappointed” at not receiving an invitation.

The pharmacies to be activated in areas of need as identified by the Victorian Department of Health include: Chemist Warehouse Fountain Gate, Your Chemist Shop Melton, Quality Pharmacy Epping Medical, Terry White Chemmart Dandenong Plaza, Priceline Pharmacy Pacific Werribee, Chemmart Watergardens and Chemist Warehouse Westfield Plenty Valley.

Depending on availability of stock, these pharmacies will commence vaccinating in their community from Monday 2 August.

They will join the eight regional pharmacies located in Koroit, Yackandandah, Metung, Beechworth, Dimboola, Chiltern and Buninyong that began vaccinating for COVID-19 from Monday 19 July.

Mansfield Pharmacy will commence vaccinating from next Monday 26 July.

Beechworth Pharmacy is owned by Ruth Parker. Source: Facebook

Pharmacist immuniser Kay Walker from Beechworth Pharmacy, located more than 280km north-east of Melbourne, said things this week have been going “really well” since Monday.

Beechworth Pharmacy has two immunisers and is providing AstraZeneca vaccination four days a week.

“In the last three days, we’ve done pretty much 10-11 a day – it’s pretty good for us for a little pharmacy!” Ms Walker told AJP. “Tomorrow we have about 20 booked in.

“Patients are really grateful for it because the doctors in town weren’t able to do it as there’s so much demand for their services, so patients would’ve had to do a 35km or more trek to other centres like Albury-Wodonga,” she said.

“A lot of our patients are 60 and older and don’t want to travel so it’s very convenient for them to come here.”

Ms Walker added that the Beechworth Pharmacy team had done a lot of preparation including reconfiguring the layout of the pharmacy by creating a dedicated vaccination room and separate waiting room, in addition to the required Covid-19 immuniser training.

Pharmacist Ros McIntyre, from Yackandandah Pharmacy in north-east Victoria, said it’s been busier than expected.

Yackandandah Pharmacy is located more than 300km north-east of Melbourne. Image: Supplied/Facebook.

“Monday was our first day. It’s been really good. Initially we only blocked out to use the two vials (20 doses) but come the end of the day we’ve done about 45 doses for the week,” she told AJP.

Ms McIntry said people have been coming in for both first and second doses.

She said patients have been appreciating “the convenience of being able to get it, especially in lockdown, they’re not having to go into town and just being able to go here.

“And I think they like that it’s a familiar face and a safe environment, being able to ask questions,” she said.

“The people who are presenting have seen the news [about AstraZeneca] but they’re also not going to get something that they’re not comfortable with. There have been some queries about side effects and clotting, but we’re able to talk them through it and get that informed consent.”

There was a lot of paper work involved and extra forms involved with the AstraZeneca vaccine, she said.

“[It’s] blocking out the time to go through all the information with the patient, and because you have to use the vial up with in the 48 hours, making sure we’ve got the people booked in to reduce wastage – so it’s managing the time and making sure we get the most our of the vials that’s probably more the difficult part.”

Pharmacy Guild Victorian branch president Anthony Tassone told AJP that the Guild continues to push for all pharmacies to be activated, with some outer metro pharmacies left unhappy at not being extended invitations to join the rollout.

“The selection of seven outer suburban localities was undertaken by the Victorian Department of Health of their own choosing and the invitation of the specific pharmacies in those suburbs – to our understanding – was by the Commonwealth,” he said.

It was not that of the Guild’s who seeks broad pharmacy activation for the benefit of patient access.

“Guild members located in these locations that were deemed suitable but who have not been approached to commence delivery of the vaccination are very disappointed – as they are very motivated to get involved to help protect their communities,” said Mr Tassone.

“Some have already commenced writing to their local Members of Parliament and the Minister for Health to voice this.”

Mr Tassone added that the Victorian Department of Health has written to the Commonwealth seeking the activation of all non-metropolitan pharmacies in Victoria to deliver the COVID-19 vaccination and is awaiting a response. 

“Again – the Guild has a clear and consistent view that there needs to be activation of pharmacies across the country including metropolitan areas, with our two largest cities currently in lockdown,” he said.

“What is obviously needed is a roadmap for the onboarding of pharmacies in the lead up to September/October where more mRNA vaccines (for example, Pfizer) will be available to ensure our vaccine ‘stroll out’ becomes a real ‘rollout’.

“The Guild continues to work closely with the departments of health at a state and Commonwealth level to see the activation of as many pharmacies as possible that have been deemed suitable through the EOI process earlier this year, as soon as possible.”

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