“We’re bringing on pharmacists”

General flags a greater role for pharmacists in vax rollout and Minister announces health care PPE support package

The head of Australia’s revamp COVID vaccination rollout taskforce, Lieutenant General John Frewen says he is “absolutely looking to bring on pharmacists” to speed up the rollout.

Speaking on Radio 2GB yesterday (Tuesday 12 July), Lt Gen Frewen said “up until now it’s been about managing available supply and not wanting to, to spread it too thin.

“So what we’ve done… is working around GPs and state hubs in the first instance, then we’ve been bringing on pharmacists in – particularly in remote and regional areas where there wasn’t perhaps the same access to a GP or one of the state clinics.

“But now as we get additional vaccines available we’re absolutely looking at bringing on pharmacists,” he said.

Lt Gen Frewen was responding to a question from host Ben Fordham who had questioned the lack of involvement of most of the pharmacy network to date. 

“Isn’t it crazy that these pharmacies are ready to roll, but they’re unable to do so?” Mr Fordham asked.

“Pharmacies are saying we’ve got 1000 pharmacies already approved by the feds to administer the vaccine, they’re waiting to be turned on by each state. So far, only a handful in remote areas have been activated.”

Lt Gen Frewen said, “I’ve been working over the weekend with New South Wales authorities about options to bring forward pharmacists in the way you’ve described.

“We’re also looking at other options around pharmacists and mass vaccination clinics. So that will give us additional capacity to get the vaccines rolling.”

Meanwhile, Health Minister Greg Hunt flagged a new health support package for lockdown-impacted NSW “that will include support for general practices, for pharmacies, and for allied health practitioners”.

GPs, pharmacists and allied health professionals in Greater Sydney are able to request a package of PPE from the National Medical Stockpile (NMS) through their local Primary Health Network (PHN) through an initial allocation of up to:

  • 1,000,000 surgical masks;
  • 1,000,000 N95 masks;
  • 250,000 pairs of gloves;
  • 250,000 gowns; and
  • 250,000 goggles.

These will be made available through the seven PHNs relevant to the current lockdowns, namely:

  • Northern Sydney,
  • Central and Eastern Sydney,
  • South Western Sydney,
  • Western Sydney,
  • South Eastern NSW,
  • Nepean Blue Mountains, and
  • Hunter New England and Central Coast

“These are to assist in infection control, to support our health practitioners as they support the community,” Mr Hunt said.

“It’s a recognition that, whilst they may not all be required at this point in time, they will be made available through the Primary Health Networks.

“And to our doctors and our nurses, to our pharmacists, to our allied health workers who are conducting essential services, I want to acknowledge and thank you.”

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