Pharmacy leader signals likely involvement for some pharmacist immunisers as part of Phase 1 of the COVID-19 vaccine strategy
A limited number of pharmacists are expected to be utilised during Phase 1a and 1b to administer the COVID-19 vaccine in some state and territory vaccination clinics, in aged care, and potentially within GP-led clinics as part of an “all hands on deck approach”, PSA National President Chris Freeman has told AJP.
Associate Professor Freeman signalled the possible involvement of pharmacists earlier than expected at his opening address to the National Australian Pharmacy Students’ Association (NAPSA) Congress on Friday evening, during which he spoke about the extension of pharmacy opportunities during recent crises.
In a comment provided to AJP, A/Prof Freeman stated: “The Health Minister has publicly committed to community pharmacists vaccinating from Phase 2 of the vaccination roll out and the operational distribution of vaccines is being led by state and territory governments.
“PSA continues to work with each state and territory government to help inform this approach,” he said.
“We would also expect that pharmacists as authorised immunisers will be utilised by state and territory governments during Phase 1a and 1b to roll out the vaccine in state / territory vaccination clinics, in aged care, and potentially within general practice-led clinics,” he added.
One Australian state is understood to be confirmed, while active planning is ongoing with other state and territory governments.
“This will need to be an ‘all hands on deck’ approach, therefore utilising pharmacists as authorised immunisers makes sense in multiple settings,” said A/Prof Freeman.
“All vaccinators, including pharmacists, will be required to undergo additional training before administering a COVID-19 vaccine and it is our understanding a provider has been commissioned to develop nationally consistent COVID-19 training for all vaccinators including pharmacists. Implementation of this training is currently being worked through.”
“Watch this space, hopefully there is something happening this year in terms of [pharmacist vaccination] happening more widely,” he told NAPSA Congress delegates.
A/Prof Freeman said he was “incredibly proud” of how the pharmacy profession has responded to the COVID-19 pandemic and other recent crises such as the 2019-20 bushfire season.
“The pharmacy profession has stood really tall during this time of crisis. When GPs closed their doors and transitioned to telehealth, it was pharmacists that kept their doors open. It was GPs that were often sending their patients to pharmacists to get their blood pressure checked and things like that,” he said.
“I think the evidence from the last 18 months is that pharmacy profession is adaptable and we’re going to have a greater and greater role moving forward. We’re going to go from being ‘nice to have’ members of the health team to becoming critical members of healthcare teams.”