Port Macquarie-based community pharmacist Judy Plunkett hopes the green light is just around the corner to give access to the AstraZeneca jab at more pharmacies.
The first pharmacies to administer the COVID-19 vaccine in NSW have joined a pilot program but there are none in Port Macquarie. They are located where access to a GP or vaccine clinic is more limited due to geography.
Pharmacies at Old Bar, Bellingen, Urunga and Dorrigo are among 22 pharmacies across regional and rural NSW included in the pilot program to administer the AstraZeneca vaccine.
Community pharmacist and NSW Pharmacy Guild branch committee member Judy Plunkett said she welcomed the fact that finally some pharmacies were enabled to provide COVID vaccinations to their communities, albeit a pilot program, and fast-tracking selected pharmacies in Sydney hotspots.
But the wait continues for most pharmacies, which responded to an expression of interest process.
"We have been ready since April and we have everything in place," Ms Plunkett said.
The systems, training and protocol are ready to go.
It is a matter of waiting for the official green light and receiving the vaccines before they can start putting AstraZeneca jabs in people's arms.
"Four thousand pharmacists across Australia were approved by the federal government to be eligible to give COVID vaccinations, and at the rate we did the flu vaccinations last year, if we had been brought on in April, we would have vaccinated at least five million people by now," she said.
There is strong public interest.
"I will have a conversation every hour with someone asking about whether we are giving the vaccination because people do trust us as a vaccination destination," Ms Plunkett said.
"I hope we hear very soon we are able to give the vaccines."
Research by The McKell Institute found accelerating the rollout of vaccines into pharmacies could help Australia reach its vaccination target of 80 per cent up to two months faster than on current projections, avoiding $12.3 billion of economic costs.
The McKell Institute's executive director Michael Buckland said the research showed it was incumbent upon the federal government to pull out all stops to ensure pharmacies were brought online.
There are plans to bring forward significant additional COVID vaccine access points through community pharmacies in both rural and metropolitan areas.
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