It’s a start, but simply not enough

The Pharmaceutical Society of Australia

The Pharmaceutical Society of Australia (PSA) welcomes confirmation that community pharmacists in regional NSW will soon be able to participate in the vaccination strategy, but it is simply not enough.

Premier Berejiklian announced yesterday that only 22 community pharmacies across the state will commence vaccinating patients with the AstraZeneca vaccine from mid-July.

PSA has been working closely with the state government to secure pharmacist involvement in the strategy since the vaccines were made available in the country.

PSA NSW Branch President, Chelsea Felkai, said this is a start but not nearly enough.

“In the wake of Sydney’s most recent lockdowns, some NSW pharmacists will finally be able to help protect their communities by vaccinating against this deadly disease.

“Whilst this is a welcomed outcome for those in some regional NSW communities, it still misses the mark, especially during a time where Sydney is subjected to the longest lockdown we have seen in a year. Pharmacists should also be administering all available vaccines in order to reach a greater proportion of the population.

“While we need to look after our rural and remote communities, there is no plan for the expansion of this so-called “pilot”.

“We have been given every excuse for not being included in the rollout to date; from difficulties in administration to cold chain and supply issues – this can no longer be tolerated. This is not about funding, politics or protecting turf. This is a pandemic.

“We desperately need a patient-centric approach that puts the community first, but it is apparent that the NSW Government’s approach to the rollout does not support this.

“The reality is that Australia will not reach the 40 million administrations needed to fully vaccinate Australia’s adult population until late September 2022, therefore, access can no longer be restricted solely through GPs, respiratory clinics and vaccination hubs.

“We have expressed our concerns around the risk of transmission of COVID-19 in the mass vaccination hubs, particularly during an outbreak. The announcement today of a positive case at one of the vaccination hubs reaffirms the importance of accessing these vaccines within your local community – whether that be through your local GP or pharmacist.

“Australia has been in a relatively good position, but as these outbreaks have shown, this position is incredibly precarious. The government cannot afford to squander the gift we have been given of being COVID-free these past months. We cannot afford to continue stalling the rollout – it will ultimately be at the expense of lives.

“The Government’s indemnity scheme now covers pharmacists administering COVID-19 vaccinations, so there are no more excuses – activate the full pharmacist workforce now!” Ms Felkai said.

PSA is dedicated to supporting pharmacists in delivering the COVID-19 vaccine both safely and effectively to the public, and pharmacists are on standby to support the strategy.

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