Pharmacies ready to vaccinate

Direct Chemist Outlet Marketplace pharmacist Tapas Barman is waiting on the all clear to begin giving AstraZeneca vaccines soon. (Ivan Kemp) 245202

By Justin Flynn

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

Since the vaccination roll-out was launched on February 22, 14 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 28.

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

According to a report from The McKell Institute, the federal government has fallen short of its roadmap target of stocking 2000 pharmacies with vaccinations by June 7, with only 65 pharmacies across the country in supply by July 12.

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

“Utilising approximately 4000 pharmacies would allow Australia to achieve its vaccination targets 41 to 56 days faster than in the current base case scenario,” the report said.

Direct Chemist Outlet Marketplace owner and pharmacist Matthew Pittwood said his store was waiting to be approved to administer the vaccine and if successful, will begin by the end of August.

“Getting people vaccinated is currently viewed as the best way to avoid lockdowns and allow Australia to reconnect with the rest of the world,” he said.

“Customers are positive about receiving their flu vaccinations in the pharmacy and many have asked if they can get a COVID vaccination in the pharmacy.”

The Bellarine has a dedicated COVID vaccination hub at Bellarine Respiratory Clinic in Ocean Grove, which was established by the federal government to help deal with the COVID-19 crisis.

“I believe it is more important in areas where there is no nearby vaccination hub and medical clinics are not providing the vaccine, but (we are) happy to help out where possible,” Mr Pittwood said.

“Initially pharmacies will only administer AstraZeneca Vaccine, but this will change as Pfizer and Moderna vaccines become more readily available towards the end of the year.”