JCU, Guild united in call on immunisations

The Pharmacy Guild of Australia and James Cook University are united in helping to increase the rate of COVID-19 vaccinations across Queensland, with a new push to allow pharmacy students to assist with the vaccine rollout.

Academic Head of Pharmacy at JCU, Associate Professor John Smithson, said pharmacies were doing a remarkable job vaccinating communities against COVID-19.

“JCU is proud to partner with our local pharmacies in the public health intervention effort to increase immunisation rates,” Associate Professor Smithson said.

For the first time, JCU Pharmacy students will be involved in the delivery of vaccinations. Assoc Prof Smithson said the university is introducing immunisation training to students in the Bachelor of Pharmacy (Honours) program earlier in the curriculum so they can immunise under the supervision of a registered and qualified pharmacist.

“JCU-trained pharmacists are at the coalface and we have adapted our Pharmacy course to further the involvement of our students,” he said.

“Our community pharmacists, who we work with very closely, are experiencing high pressure and increased workload, especially due to the addition of 5–11-year-olds to the eligible COVID vaccination population.

“In joining the effort we will be ready to contribute a group of students trained to the same standard as qualified pharmacist immunisers, supervised by highly experienced North Queensland pharmacists.”

JCU and community pharmacies have previously joined forces to give the jab, with university graduates involved in the Guild’s FNQ COVID-19 School Vaccination Program, administering 3,200 vaccinations in high schools in late 2021.

National President of the Pharmacy Guild, Professor Trent Twomey, welcomed JCU’s commitment and applauded its initiative in bringing immunisation training forward.

“It really is a case of all hands on deck now and having more people qualified to provide vaccinations under supervision is a great step forward,” Professor Twomey said.

“The inclusion of pharmacy graduates in the School Vaccination Program was a great success and bringing students on board the general vaccination program will benefit those wanting to get their vaccinations or booster shots.

“We are hearing of people having difficulty getting their shots at some locations, but we know community pharmacies remain the most accessible place.

“These pharmacies are often open longer and on weekends, meaning people can organise to get their shot around their busy schedules. Many offer walk-in services.”

Professor Twomey said booking a vaccination via Find a Pharmacy was easy and effective.

“I encourage everyone to get online and book now because the sooner you are protected, the sooner the community is protected.”

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