Pharmacist immunisers in Queensland will be the first in Australia to provide the pneumococcal vaccination, and will also be able to administer a COVID-19 vaccine when the first becomes available, the state’s health minister said on Saturday.
‘Scientists around the world … are working hard to find a vaccine,’ Minister Steven Miles said.
‘It’s important we do everything we can to prepare for that. That includes ensuring we have manufacturing capability, distribution capability as well as administration capability.’
Queensland currently has 999 confirmed COVID-19 cases and five people have died.
Pharmacists will be also able to administer the meningococcal vaccine to children aged 10 and older (previously 16 and older), the government announced.
In other changes designed to help pharmacists provide their communities with increased access to essential medicines, patients will be able to receive a maximum PBS quantity or pack size without a prescription, where the pharmacist is satisfied there is immediate need, usually 1 months’ supply for most medicines.
PSA Queensland President Chris Campbell welcomed the measures, which he said would help pharmacists provide necessary care to their patients and the community.
‘Pharmacists are on the frontline of healthcare and are doing a tremendous job of supporting the community during the COVID crisis,’ he said.
‘We are seeing more patients get the influenza shot this year in pharmacies than ever before. Last year more than 2 million influenza vaccinations were provided by pharmacists and this year, with the improvement in access from 10 years and older in Queensand, people are quite rightly choosing to be immunised.’
Queensland pharmacists will also be able to supply an alternative suitable medicine to a patient if supplies of a usual medicine are unavailable, once the protocols being developed by the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) for prescribed Schedule 4 restricted drugs are enacted.
‘PSA fully supports and thanks the Queensland Government for this common-sense approach that will provide certainty to patients who cannot access their medicines due to the impact of COVID-19 or might be worried about a certain medicine being out of stock,’ Mr Campbell said.
‘Queensland is the first state or territory to enable pharmacists to implement the TGA therapeutic substitution protocols when they are released, which is one of many ways the government, through pharmacists, is tackling the growing issue of medicines shortage around Australia.’
PSA is hosting a live webinar on COVID-19: Pharmacy Layout and Protection tonight (15 April, 7:30pm EST). PSA members can register here.