Start of vaccine rollout labelled momentous

In what has been dubbed a momentous event, the Pharmaceutical Society of Australia (PSA) and the Pharmacy Guild of Australia, along with pharmacists across the country have welcomed the rollout of the Covid-19 vaccine.

PSA National President, Associated Professor Chris Freeman says that pharmacists across Australia are excited by the first doses being administered, marking the beginning of Australia’s exit from the pandemic.

“Australia’s health response to the pandemic has been led by expert scientific health advice, and our national Covid-19 vaccination strategy is no different,” says Associate Professor Freeman.

“All Australians can have confidence in the safety and effectiveness of approved Covid-19 vaccine, which will be administered by competent, well-trained vaccinators, including pharmacists.”

Reportedly, pharmacists working in Victoria’s Covid-19 hubs were among the first frontline health workers to be immunised against Covid-19, ahead of going into quarantine hotels to support the workforce vaccination program this week.

With community pharmacy said to be an important part of the Covid-19 vaccine rollout, the PSA has worked with the Australian Government, as well as state and territory health departments in preparing for the rollout.

According to a statement released by the PSA, this work incorporates consultation to support recent regulatory milestones, including:

  • The Public Health Emergency Order, which was issued in Victoria providing approval for pharmacists and nurse immunisers to administer Covid-19 vaccines.
  • The approval for pharmacists to administer the Covid-19 vaccine in South Australia.
  • The passed regulations in the Northern Territory Parliament, which have allowed all authorised immunisers, including pharmacists, to administer Covid-19 vaccines.

These jurisdictions join Queensland in authorising pharmacists to administer Covid-19 vaccines, according to the PSA, who will continue to inform members as other states and territories update their regulations.

According to Associate Professor Freeman, pharmacists are enthusiastic to be part of the Covid-19 vaccinator workforce, with “around 1,000 pharmacists registered for a [recent] PSA Covid-19 webinar”.

“[They are] keen to learn how they can support the Covid-19 vaccine rollout and stand willing and able to protect the Australian community against this awful disease,” he says.

“PSA will continue to support the profession through the Covid-19 vaccine rollout, including training more pharmacists to become vaccinators, maintain our leading Covid-19 microsite and working with governments around the country to ensure the rollout reaches as many Australians as possible.”

National President of the Pharmacy Guild of Australia, George Tambassis adds that community pharmacists across Australia have welcome the opportunity to be part of the healthcare sector’s commitment to ensuring the maximum possible uptake of Covid-19 vaccinations.

“Some 94% of pharmacies are members of the pharmacy profession’s quality assurance program, QCPP, and the robustness of this program underpins the sector’s ability to meet the challenges of the pandemic and the delivery of Covid-19 vaccinations, while maintaining the levels of service and medicine delivery critical to their role as frontline healthcare professionals.

“With a network of some 5,800 pharmacies across Australia, appropriately trained pharmacists are ideally placed to provide the opportunities and access for Australians to receive a Covid-19 vaccination.

“Our members are committed to helping protect communities in all areas of the country and, as has been shown during all phases of this pandemic, will continue to go above and beyond for their patients.

“The Guild looks forward to helping ensure the resources and skills of pharmacists are recognised and quickly utilised in the Covid-19 vaccine rollout.”