Vaccine rollout under fire as more Qld pharmacies receive doses
More pharmacies across regional Queensland will be topped up with AstraZeneca doses this week, boosting the state's COVID-19 vaccination rollout.
There are close to 50 community pharmacies throughout the state that currently offer jab, now an extra 83 will jump on board.
But Pharmacy Guild of Australia QLD Acting President Chris Owen says the jab should have been made available at pharmacies a lot sooner.
"We want to be able to lower the barriers to access, so that means people in rural or regional, or remote Queensland don't have to travel several hundreds of kilometres to [get a vaccine]."
He explains the Guild put out expressions of interest in February, but the first round of approved pharmacies did not start vaccinating until June 7.
"This is to do with the amount of vaccine shortages that they have had, and we can completely understand that, but we now have an excess of AstraZeneca vaccine available in all markets.
"The only thing stopping it is political will at this point," Mr Owen says.
A further 186 pharmacies across regional Queensland have already been approved to administer vaccines at the beginning of August.
Metro Queensland left out
There are still more than 500 community pharmacies in areas like Brisbane, the Sunshine Coast and Ipswich that will not be administering the jab.
Mr Owen says people living in these areas are confused about why they cannot get a vaccine at their local chemist.
"While I think that it is very worthy that those rural people get vaccinated first, their city cousins should not be disadvantaged by that.
"We would really love to have these pharmacies rolled out as soon as possible so they can actually provide that care to their patients, which is ultimately what healthcare professionals do."
A Federal Health Department spokesperson says community pharmacies with vaccines in regional areas are addressing barriers to access for those who cannot get a jab elsewhere.
The spokesperson explains there is also planning underway for these pharmacies to deliver mRNA vaccines from September as a way to boose vaccination points.
"All community pharmacies will be offered an opportunity to respond to the invitation to participate in the mRNA vaccine roll-out program.
"Further information regarding this process will be announced shortly.
"Metropolitan areas in Queensland are currently being well serviced by General Practices."
A list of regional pharmacies offering vaccines will be updated next week, and will be available by visiting https://www.findapharmacy.com.au/campaigns/qldpharmacy?utm_source=referral&utm_medium=MediaReleaserelease&utm_campaign=Consumer&utm_content=COVID19.