States Take Positive Steps on COVAX

NSW, South Australia and Victoria are joining Queensland in activating community pharmacies as COVID-19 vaccination (COVAX) sites, but more work is required to optimise the use of the pharmacy network, the Pharmaceutical Society of Australia (PSA) believes.

With pharmacy COVAX rollouts starting in regional and rural locations yesterday, PSA leaders across the country are calling on health officials to “activate the full pharmacist workforce now” to help combat COVID outbreaks in major metropolitian areas.

Welcoming the NSW Government’s decision to activate the State’s 1,250 approved pharmacies, PSA National President, Associate Professor Chris Freeman has called for “a unified, patient-centric approach that puts the community first”.

“It is great to see NSW utilising its full vaccinator workforce,” he said. “Pharmacists are the most obvious solution to increasing accessibility of vaccinations. We hope that more jurisdictions will follow NSW’s lead.”

Yesterday saw 21 regional NSW stores in the State’s community pharmacy-based COVAX trial, joining Capital Chemist Braidwood, which administered doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine last Fri (PD 16 Jul), a move backed by PSA NSW Branch President, Chelsea Felkai.

“We are also pleased to see that pharmacists can now vaccinate in NSW regardless of practice setting,” she said.

“This means that pharmacists will be able to play a greater role in administering vaccinations in GP clinics, aged care facilities, and vaccination hubs.

“We have almost 5,000 skilled, trusted and experienced pharmacist vaccinators across NSW, and when fully activated, they will make a substantial difference to the population’s uptake of the vaccine.

“Today’s on-boarding of these regional pharmacies is a great first step.”

PSA Victorian Branch President, John Jackson described the decision to activate eight pharmacies in rural and remote areas as “a start, but on-boarding less than a dozen local pharmacies in regional areas simply isn’t enough”.

“The state is currently in the midst of yet another outbreak, therefore, utilising community pharmacists at this juncture is imperative to protecting Victorians,” he said.

A further seven pharmacies in Melbourne’s outer suburbs, identified as areas of need by the Victorian Department of Health have been given the green-light to join the campaign in the coming weeks by the Federal Government.

Among the first South Australian pharmacists to administer a COVAX in a community pharmacy yesterday, PSA SA/NT Branch President, Robyn John, said it was wonderful to be on the frontline, “disappointingly, pharmacist involvement in the rollout is still incredibly limited”.

“Littlehampton is about 30 to 40 minutes away from Adelaide’s CBD, and given the close proximity to the State’s capital city, why can’t metropolitan pharmacists play their part?” she asked.

“We already have a skilled, trusted, experienced, and easily accessible vaccinator workforce at governments’ disposal – so we must activate them now!”

Source:, Tuesday 21 July 2021.