Pharmacies ready to vaccinate

Kingsville resident Jeff Rose and nurse Kendyll Gough. (Joe Mastroianni). 239329_03

By Oliver Lees

Pharmacies across Sunbury are ready and waiting for federal government approval to administer COVID-19 vaccinations, as new research indicates stocking pharmacies is the key to quickening the roll-out.

As Victoria and other states find themselves in yet another lockdown, the nation’s vaccination campaign has been brought under the microscope.

Since the campaign was launched on February 22, 13 per cent of Australia’s eligible population (over the age of 16) has been fully vaccinated, according to federal Department of Health data recorded up to July 20.

So far, vaccinations have been primarily administered at vaccination hubs and doctor’s offices.

According to research from The McKell Institute, the federal government has fallen short of its roadmap target of stocking 2000 pharmacies with vaccinations, with only 65 pharmacies across the country currently in supply.

The study also found 3930 pharmacies across Australia have been assessed by the Pharmacy Programs Administrator as suitable for the roll-out.

Pharmacy 4 Less Sunbury manager Abdul Azzam said his store has applied to receive COVID-19 vaccination stock and is awaiting confirmation.

“It’s only logical that pharmacies be stocked with vaccines, it’s the most accessible place for regular people,” Mr Azzam said.

“There is a certain criteria you have to meet, that’s the first step. You need to have the space and a separate vaccination room. Then they assess the local area and see how many locations are required.

“I think there is also an issue with supply, the more we get in, the quicker we can get started.

“We’ve been doing flu vaccinations for a while so for us it just makes sense.”

TerryWhite Chemist Sunbury manager Lisa Solomon said her store had also applied to contribute to the roll-out and confirmed there are currently no pharmacies in Sunbury providing COVID-19 vaccinations.

Pharmacy Guild of Australia president Anthony Tassone said a roadmap for onboarding pharmacies into the roll-out is needed.

“Community pharmacies are the most frequently visited and accessible primary healthcare destination in Australia,” Mr Tassone said.

“It makes complete sense to involve them in the COVID-19 vaccination roll-out where we literally need ‘all hands on deck’ to vaccinate our nation’s eligible population.

“We see no reason to delay bringing all approximately 4000 eligible pharmacies into the roll-out to maximise uptake of vaccinations nationally… to ensure our vaccine ‘stroll out’ becomes a real ‘roll-out’.”