Pharmacists say they can speed up COVID-19 vaccination rollout

July 16, 2021 BY

The Pharmaceutical Society of Australia wants more pharmacies activated as soon as possible to help with the rollout of COVID-19 vaccines nationally. Photo: BARWON HEALTH

The Pharmaceutical Society of Australia (PSA) says its members are the most obvious solution to getting Australians vaccinated against COVID-19 as quickly and conveniently as possible.

PSA national president Associate Professor Chris Freeman said he was dismayed that pharmacist involvement in the rollout was still incredibly limited.

“Pharmacists are the most obvious solution to increasing accessibility to vaccinations. We already have a skilled, trusted, experienced, and easily accessible vaccinator workforce at governments’ disposal. And we already have established vaccination clinics in our shopping centres – the community pharmacy.

“Local pharmacists should be activated to alleviate pressure on vaccination hubs and to make it as easy and convenient as possible for Australians to get vaccinated. We need to use Australia’s full vaccinator workforce, including local pharmacists. Of Australia’s 5,800 pharmacies, only 65 pharmacies have actually been activated so far, with a further 300 to be activated by the end of July. This represents only five per cent of pharmacies.

“In addition, the federal government’s indemnity scheme already covers pharmacists – they have been fully trained for months and are sick of being sidelined.”

Prof. Freeman said involving local pharmacists would encourage at-risk Australians to come forward and get vaccinated. “Local pharmacists can target at-risk Australians, particularly the elderly who may be hesitant to commute to or queue at these hubs for extended periods of time.

“Local pharmacists can also reduce the rate of ‘no-shows’ by making it easier and more convenient to get vaccinated, and can reduce wastage by managing their appointments.

“Pharmacists are already vaccinating against COVID-19 in GP clinics, hubs, and remote and rural pharmacies, and have been administering influenza and other vaccines for many years.”

The federal government’s indemnity scheme, announced earlier this month, covers pharmacists administering COVID-19.

The PSA said it was dedicated to supporting pharmacists in delivering the vaccine both safely and effectively to the public, and that its pharmacists were on standby to support the strategy.