Pharmacists play key role in Covid-19 vaccines

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Academics are of the opinion that making use of the network of pharmacists is pivotal in the quest for herd immunisation against Covid-19.

A literature review “Protecting the Herd: Why Pharmacists Matter in Mass Vaccination’ conducted by the University of Tasmania and the University of Canberra looked at Australian healthcare workforce capability and existing policy for mass vaccination and the potential role of the pharmacist.

The research, published in the journal Pharmacy, reveals that the pandemic has underscored the significance of pharmacies and pharmacists to the Australian healthcare system and public health.

It has also underscored the critical need for the government to consider Australia’s healthcare workforce in preparation for mass vaccination, according to the authors.

“It has revealed new roles that pharmacists can fulfil during a public health crisis. Trained pharmacist vaccinators, across all Australian jurisdictions, should be included in the health workforce planning to enable quick and large-scale Covid-19 vaccination in order to achieve herd immunity,” said the authors, who included former PSA national president Shane Jackson.

The authors believe that the vaccination should cost about the same as using nurse immunisers and that pharmacies providing the service should receive the same reimbursement as other healthcare professionals.

However, what pharmacy does do is “expand reach and access, when timeliness and capacity are going to be paramount. It also leverages off an existing network of immunisers with supply mechanisms via wholesalers,” the authors said.

There may be cost savings to the government associated with a more rapid roll-out of mass vaccination such as a decrease in hospitalisation costs, work and school absenteeism.

Mass vaccination spans aspects of immunisation threshold, vaccine delivery, vaccine clinic locations and hours of operation, staffing arrangements, vaccine administration training, and strategies for vaccine prioritisation.

The authors say that pharmacists are under utilised in state and pandemic plans.

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