By Georgia Parsonson
Eighty-two pharmacies across Queensland are to start offering COVID-19 vaccines to local residents in late July. In addition, up to 186 more community pharmacies, approved through the Federal Government’s EOI process, will contribute to Queensland’s COVID-19 vaccine rollout in August.
Chris Owen, Acting President of the Pharmacy Guild of Australia’s Queensland branch, has welcomed the announcement and said that the pharmacies are based in rural and regional parts of Queensland to join the 49 community pharmacies already participating in the vaccine rollout.
“The inclusion of community pharmacies is vital for rural and remote communities that don’t have access to doctor’s surgeries or vaccine hubs,” he said.
June saw Queensland announced that 49 community pharmacies would begin to offer free COVID-19 vaccinations. They were the first pharmacies in Australia to do so. However, despite the fact the end of this month would see 131 community pharmacies participating in the vaccine rollout, Mr Owen believes that more must be done.
“There’s no reason for the other 521 community pharmacies in Queensland that have already been assessed as suitable by the Commonwealth to not be included in the rollout immediately.
“Given the need to vaccinate as many Queenslanders as quickly as possible, and the decentralised nature of our state, it is imperative that these community pharmacies are brought online, not only in rural and remote areas of the state but also within the urban centres.
“I call on the Commonwealth to immediately activate the remaining 521 community pharmacies in metro areas,” he said, “We need to protect Queenslanders and stop these revolving lockdowns.”
According to Mr Owen, community pharmacies are highly accessible to Queensland residents: 97% of consumers in capital cities, and 66% of rural communities, live within 2.5 kilometres of one. They are also the most frequently visited primary healthcare destination, and staff are ideally situated for interactions with members of the public.
“If we activate those pharmacies now, more Queenslanders will have access to COVID-19 vaccinations when even further stock becomes available in September and October.
“Anyone administering a COVID-19 vaccine in community pharmacies has undergone the Commonwealth’s mandatory training with the Australian College of Nurses on this specific vaccine.”
To learn which pharmacies are taking part in the COVID-19 vaccine rollout, visit: www.findapharmacy.com.au/qldpharmacy.