Community pharmacy needed in Covid-19 vaccine rollout

With less than 90,000 Western Australians having reportedly received their first dose of the Covid-19 and with the state going into a recent three-day lockdown (which has now ended), questions are being raised about the effectiveness of the national Covid-19 vaccine rollout strategy.

“Ensuring the safety of more than two and a half million Western Australians requires access to vaccines and currently, the national strategy is failing in that area badly,” says Pharmacy Guild of Australia WA Branch President, Andrew Ngeow.

While community pharmacies were previously assured that they would be part of the Covid-19 vaccine rollout and were originally scheduled to administer vaccines from Phase 2A of the roll-out in May, it’s said that this sizable workforce is now completely unaware of when they will receive approval to do this and when they will be given access to an appropriate number of vaccines to provide to their patients.

“We are baffled by the dismissive attitude to use community pharmacy and dismayed by the slow and bureaucratic approach to the vaccine roll-out, which [ended up plunging] the Anzac Day plans of all Western Australians into disarray and put the safety of West Australians at risk,” says Mr Ngeow, adding the quarantine measures “while necessary are only a part of the solution”.

“The real and much larger priority for Western Australians is in their access to vaccination,” he says. “We are calling on the Commonwealth Government to expedite its plans and ensure that community pharmacy is immediately brought on board to enable this.”

Pharmacists have completed the same mandatory Covid-19 vaccination training as GPs and nurses and have appropriate facilities to provide vaccinations.

Reportedly, the Western Australian Government is extremely supportive of the involvement of community pharmacy in the Covid-19 vaccine roll-out; however, the current issue is that the approval for this to happen is required from the Commonwealth Government.

“Community pharmacies are the most accessible primary healthcare destination, with 97% of all Australians living within 2.5km of a community pharmacy,” says Mr Ngeow. “We are therefore ideally placed to deliver the Covid-19 vaccine.”

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