Pharmacy groups applaud Health Minister’s comments that pharmacists are to be involved in COVID-19 vaccine delivery
Health Minister Greg Hunt has said Australian community pharmacies will become involved during phase 2 of the COVID-19 vaccine rollout.
Speaking at a doorstop interview yesterday, the Minister said Australia’s vaccination network is “built around our general practices with support from our pharmacies”.
“And so our general practices will commence when the AstraZeneca vaccine commences as part of Stage 1B. The pharmacies from phase 2 are expected to join,” Mr Hunt added.
“We were speaking today with the head of the Pharmacy Guild. And last week, I spoke with the AMA as well. And so they’re all pitching in”.
Mr Hunt’s comments have been welcomed by both the Pharmacy Guild of Australia and the Pharmaceutical Society of Australia.
Guild national president, George Tambassis, said talks this week with the Minister had “confirmed the absolutely essential contribution of community pharmacies to the COVID vaccination task” and he welcomed the Minister’s “support and confidence” in community pharmacy.
“Make no mistake – this is the biggest public health challenge Australia has ever faced, and community pharmacies are an essential component in this enormous logistical exercise,” Mr Tambassis said.
“Trained community pharmacist immunisers are standing ready to make a significant contribution to the health workforce charged with administering these vaccines to all Australians who wish to be vaccinated,” he said.
“Pharmacist immunisers are now providing significant and demonstrable public health dividends – through the millions vaccinated against influenza at their local pharmacy in 2020, and now as community pharmacists add to the health workforce preparing to administer these absolutely essential vaccines.”
Pharmacists and pharmacy assistants will themselves be vaccinated as part of Phase 1b, Mr Tambassis said, recognition of their essential role as health care workers.
PSA national president, Associate Professor Chris Freeman, said PSA has been meeting with the Department of Health regarding multi dose vial administration and how to support clinicians with safe delivery of all approved vaccines.
“Pharmacists have a vital role to play when it comes to the rollout of COVID-19 vaccines ensuring there is enough capacity in the system to allow the public to be vaccinated as quickly as possible.” he said.
“PSA has for some time urged all state and territory governments to amend legislation that will allow pharmacists to administer a COVID-19 vaccine and while some jurisdictions have made these necessary changes, others have been slow to act.”
“So, we call on state and territory governments where required to urgently change legislation in such a way that will also allow pharmacists to vaccinate in any setting to ensure there is wide and comprehensive uptake of the vaccine.
“A proactive approach to legislation amendments means that the entire available health care workforce, including pharmacists, will be able to undertake a large-scale vaccination program.
In announcing the COVID-19 vaccine rollout plan, Mr Hunt pointed to the current network in place which achieved 17 million vaccinations last year, many administered by pharmacists.
It is expected the rollout of the vaccine will commence in mid-to-late February, broken down into five key phases.