Rural and remote pharmacies set to begin Covid-19 Vaccine rollout

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​The premier of South Australia, Steven Marshall, is about to approve the vaccine rollout in up to 100 rural and remote pharmacies. According to Marshall, “South Australians have now received more than 425,000 vaccination doses as we ramp up the rollout throughout our state.”

According to him, the next key step is making it easier for people to get vaccinated. “[the vaccine] is keeping South Australians safe and our economy strong during the pandemic and we now have more people employed than ever before in the history of the state,” Marshall said.

South Australia’s Health Minister also noted that “It makes perfect sense to enable the community pharmacy workforce to provide more options for people to get their COVAX, especially in rural and remote areas.”

He also added that community pharmacists are trained vaccinators and are currently an essential part of the immunisation effort in South Australia. “There is already a strong community acceptance and uptake of pharmacist vaccinations in Australia and there is existing capability within the pharmacy network.”

Robyn Johns, Branch President of the Pharmaceutical Society of Australia SA/NT also added to the discourse, stating that the decision was pleasing and would speed up the vaccine rollout process. “All vaccine providers including community pharmacists must be able to support all patients by administering the most appropriate vaccine for them.“

Read: COVID vaccination and community pharmacy

Tasmania risks falling behind on vaccination rollout

While vaccinations are set to ramp up in South Australia, Tasmania risks falling behind the rest of Australia, according to the Guild.

Helen O’Byrne, President of the Tasmania Guild Branch, has expressed her concerns about the lack of discourse on the expansion of the vaccination program to include pharmacies; something that’s currently happening with other jurisdictions.

“We have no information on whether planning has even started in Tasmania. I understand that in Tasmania the Federal and State coordination of Covid-19 vaccinations means that about 31% of the adult population has received at least one of the two required doses,” she said.

Even though O’Byrne classifies it as a “solid achievement,” she also stated that “many areas across Tasmania [have] limited or no local appointment availability for a Covid-19 vaccination, making it difficult for many people to receive this important protection against infection.”

She went on further to state that “Our members as trained healthcare professionals are committed to supporting the Government’s efforts by playing their part in delivering the vaccine to their local communities.”

Read: CSOs Should Distribute COVAX, says the Guild

Reforms are needed in the aged care sector - McBride

Pharmacist and MP, Emma McBride is calling on the Federal Government to boost the quality use of medicines in the aged care sector.

She spoke in the house of representatives on Monday, 21st June saying the Government's response to the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety so far has been less than adequate.

“They’ve dodged, delayed, or outright rejected key recommendations. Nothing will change without reforms to the workforce. There was nothing to improve wages in the budget for overstretched or undervalued workers.”

McBride also emphasized that the Government has failed to collaborate with employee organizations, despite the Royal Commission’s recommendation to do so. “At the same time, they are giving $3.2 billion to providers, with no conditions to make sure this goes to actual better care or better food, not just improving their bottom line,” she stated.

According to McBride, her goal is to strengthen legislation on the use of restrictive practices, including chemical restraint. According to her, “Some of the most alarming evidence to the Royal Commission related to the widespread sedation or chemical restraint of aged-care residents, often with dementia.”

She also cited a study by Associate Professor Juanita Breen from Wicking Dementia Research and Education Centre at the University of Tasmania, where 22% of aged-care residents were taking antipsychotics and up to 41% were on antidepressants.

“As a pharmacist who works in mental health and psychogeriatrics, and having lost my father to younger-onset Alzheimer’s dementia, this is of concern to me and to countless individuals and families across Australia.”

ATAGI changes advice on AstraZeneca Vaccine

Experts in the Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisations (ATAGI) have updated advice on the administering of the AstraZeneca Vaccine to elderly people. According to the release on the Department of Health’s website, experts now recommend that the vaccine should be given to individuals above 60.

According to the recommendation summary, Adults over 60 will receive a greater individual benefit than younger people.

Read: GPs Must Update Registration to Continue Receiving Medicare Benefits

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