Turf war over administering of Covid-19 vaccines

The advent of a Covid-19 vaccine on the horizon has brought up the question as to whether doctors or doctors and pharmacists should administer the vaccination. 

The Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) has announced that a vaccine should be approved by January ahead of a later rollout in March to priority groups. 

The Department of Health has said that pharmacists are part of the vaccination program for the broader population later in the year. 

As outlined in the policy, key vaccination sites for the vaccine priority groups are expected to initially include hospitals, respiratory clinics and general practices, says a Department of Health spokesperson.

“Pharmacists are expected to play a role in the wider Covid-19 vaccination rollout, occurring from mid-2021.”

However, doctor groups are opposed to this on the basis that pharmacies as retailers have the incentive to sell products. 

Their argument is that pharmacists are not capable of effectively dealing with complexities of the task, such as adverse events, social distancing, post-vaccine observation, cold chain storage, multiple-dose vials and the need to enter all vaccinations on the national immunisation register.

The Pharmacy Guild of Australia is adamant that pharmacists should be permitted to administer the vaccine.

President of the Pharmacy Guild of Australia George Tambassis says that pharmacist participation will enable faster vaccination of the population, enable patient choice and that the profession is equipped to deal with the complexities of the task. 

Associate Professor Chris Freeman, chief executive of Pharmaceutical Society of Australia, told the Sydney Morning Herald it makes sense to include pharmacists as they are accessible healthcare professions across the country, with pharmacists having the necessary skills, capability and competency for the job.