‘Today is the day we have been waiting for.’

Prime Minister gives go-ahead for nearly 4,000 community pharmacies across the country to join the COVID-19 vaccination rollout within weeks

All eligible community pharmacies across Australia will finally be able to join the COVID-19 vaccination rollout after Prime Minister Scott Morrison gave them the green light on Thursday.

Nearly 4,000 community pharmacies, which had already successfully applied the join the program through an Expression of Interest process earlier this year, are expected to commence administering the AstraZeneca vaccine from mid-August.

This includes 2,668 pharmacies in metropolitan areas and 1,262 pharmacies in regional, rural and remote areas.

Pharmacies that have not yet expressed interest will also be offered the opportunity to participate, according to Health Minister Greg Hunt.

“That’s all about increasing the many points of presence. This increase in the pharmacy rollout for now is about AstraZeneca, and it’s particularly designed to ensure that we can address those more vulnerable populations over 60,” said Mr Morrison.

“The Delta variant is very aggressive. It is important wherever you are in the country to please go and see that pharmacist when they’re available, or go and see your GP, and make sure that you’re getting the AstraZeneca vaccines.”

Mr Morrison added that pharmacies will still be able to participate in administering mRNA vaccines from September as planned.

Pharmacy was initially anticipated to join the program in May this year, however supply limitations and concerns about stock availability hampered their involvement.

So far only 118 community pharmacies are currently vaccinating around the country, particularly located in rural and regional areas.

Mr Morrison said it was expected the pharmacies would be ready to begin administering the vaccinations in roughly two weeks, with some in Sydney hotspots onboarded from next week.

The Pharmacy Guild of Australia welcomed the decision by the Commonwealth.

“These pharmacies have undergone all the training and meet all the necessary criteria to provide this service for patients,” said National President of the Pharmacy Guild, Trent Twomey.

“To date a handful of pharmacies in regional, rural and remote areas have been able to provide COVID-19 vaccinations to patients.

“But today’s announcement means patients across all of Australia will soon be able to access their COVID-19 vaccinations through their community pharmacy, which is the most accessible health destination and often provides extended operating hours and access at weekends.

“These pharmacies are fully indemnified by the Government and informed consent protocols will be followed for patients,” said Adj Prof Twomey.

“Modelling by the Guild shows that bringing these pharmacies on board will speed up the rollout by several months, and this is great news for communities across Australia,” he said.

PSA National President Chris Freeman said pharmacists around the country will welcome the news.

“Today is the day that we have been waiting for and PSA is pleased that pharmacists will finally be able to fully contribute to the vaccine rollout,” he said.

“Pharmacists will be able to target those at-risk Australians, particularly the elderly, who remain unvaccinated – negating the need to queue at mass vaccination hubs for extended periods of time.”

A/Prof Freeman also called on the all states and territories to update their regulations to ensure as many eligible Australians can access the vaccine as soon as possible.

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  1. Michael Post

    Interesting to note Trent Twomey of the Guild and PM Morrison refer to brick and mortar inanimate ‘pharmacies’ as vaccinators whereas the PSAs Chris Freeman refers to human being ‘pharmacists’ as vaccinators.
    ‘Pharmacy’ leadership and funding must be removed and replaced with ‘pharmacist’ leadership and funding if we are to see community health improve and pharmacists reach their potential.

    • Michael Ortiz

      Hello Michael, it is great to see that government is finally listening. My own modelling siggess taht with Community Pharmacy involved, it may be possible to have 80% of the population with two doses by early next year. It all depends on supply of the Pfizer vaccine. It is also good news that that children should be able to receive vaccinations now. Lets hope that the Australian population will get vaccinated and stay safe at home.

      As to payment for vaccinating – GPs are paid twice the fee compared to pharmacists so it will be interesting to watch this space.

      • Russell Smith

        One might surmise that IF doctors are paid $2x vs pharmacists, then either its worth pharmacists being paid $2x – OR if pharmacists are paid $1x, then doctors are paid double what its worth. Where’s PGA and PSA now?

        • Paul Sapardanis

          Why would anyone pay more for anything than what the other party is willing to accept? I don’t understand why everyone is complaining about when so many pharmacies agreed to participate. And its not just COVID vaccinations. What about deliveries NDSS . Stop complaining and either do it or not

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