BEAUDESERT chemists could be stocking COVID-19 vaccines this winter after the Pharmaceutical Society of Australia earlier this week urged pharmacists to answer the federal government's call to assist in rolling out phase 2 of the COVID-19 vaccination program.
Priceline Beaudesert Fair owner Shrikesh Morjaria said the company had already lodged an expression of interest with the government and was prepared to administer the vaccine in-store.
"From what I understand we are meant to be starting in May with the AstraZeneca vaccine because the Pfizer vaccine has to be kept at very low temperatures, which is less suitable for a community pharmacy," he said.
Mr Morjaria said there would be some training involved but the Beaudesert Fair store met all the criteria laid down by the Health Department.
"When we first considered it, I didn't want to put my hand up if it wasn't safe for our customers in our store," he said.
"We will have to make some minor changes and these changes will ensure 100 per cent safety for our customers."
Discount Drug Store co-owner Gabrielle Clarke said the pharmacy would consider putting in an expression of interest later this week.
"We can't say for certain until we see the guidelines, stores need to provide a certain space and meet specific requirements," she said.
"Our regular customers are a priority and we would want to make sure customers in our store for reasons other than vaccinations are comfortable and okay with us doing that."
The Amcal pharmacy on Brisbane Street said they were not committing either way at this time.
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Health Minister, Greg Hunt, said the government was preparing "the necessary and compulsory training which will be required for each and every healthcare professional administering COVID-19 vaccines".
Another government requirement involved pharmacies having the ability to scale-up vaccination workforce and site at short notice.
PSA president, Associate Professor Chris Freeman said community pharmacists were a vital link in delivering the COVID vaccine program to Australians.
"COVID-19 has dramatically changed our lives and pharmacists have supported our community on the frontline - I am confident community pharmacists will step up to join Australia's vaccination workforce, just as they have done throughout the coronavirus pandemic," he said.
"Including pharmacists in the national rollout is in the public interest, to increase public access to vaccines quickly while increasing vaccination rates and pharmacists stand ready, willing, and able to deliver COVID vaccinations to the Australian community.
"At the core of every pharmacist is the innate desire to help the public and participating in the COVID-19 vaccine roll out is yet another way the profession is able to do just that."
"Utilising the existing network of thousands of community pharmacies will ensure the general population has broader access to COVID-19 vaccinations, will provide choice in where the community receives a vaccine, and will address barriers to accessing some parts of rural and regional Australia.
"Participation in the program will be voluntary and pharmacies will need to demonstrate that they meet the highest safety standards and have capacity and capability to deliver COVID-19 vaccines, as well as ensuring they can continue to provide important services to their local communities."
Prof Freeman said community pharmacists were a vital cog in the roll out to communities around Australia and PSA would work with its members and the Government to ensure a seamless program delivery for Australians.
The selected pharmacies will have supplies of the AstraZeneca vaccine, once approved by the Therapeutic Goods Administration, and pharmacists will be provided with vaccine-specific training, access to the Federal Government's national booking system, and funding for delivering vaccines.
The focus of the EOI is to identify community pharmacists that are willing and able to deliver the AstraZeneca COVID-9 vaccine to Phase 2 priority populations, which include:
- Adults aged 60-69 years
- Adults aged 50-59 years
- Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged 18-54 years
- Other critical and high risk workers;
- Balance of adult population
- Catch up any unvaccinated Australians from previous phases.