Inner West Independent

Inner West pharmacies begin vaccinating against COVID after months wait

Jessica Ayoub, a pharmacist at Metropolitan Pharmacy Services in Leichhardt, gives a customer the jab. The pharmacy has been providing vaccines for a fortnight. Photo: Supplied.

By EVA BAXTER

Metropolitan Pharmacy Services in Leichhardt began administering AstraZeneca vaccines on Monday, August 9th.

Jessica Ayoub, a pharmacist at MPS, told the Independent the demand has forced them to run on Wednesday and Friday, instead of only on Monday and Tuesday as originally planned.

“This came straight out of a customer’s mouth, ‘I feel more comfortable walking to a pharmacy or a vaccination hub or a GP clinic, it’s a much more relaxing environment and you just feel comfortable straight away.’

“You see that in people, they seem very relaxed, we have streamlined it so they’re not waiting excessive periods of time for their vaccines,” she said.

The process of the pharmacy getting the green light involved a three month wait.

“Initially, the rollout into pharmacy was supposed to be May, but then AstraZeneca got pulled by the TGA for anyone under sixty,” Ayoub said.

“We knew it was eventually going to come to pharmacy, but we didn’t hear when that was going to happen, until [an] email came through.

Pharmacies like Metropolitan Pharmacy Services in Leichhardt are the missing link in Australia’s vaccination program. Photo: Supplied.

“Then that’s when we knew, ok, they’re rolling the ball again, so we applied to that and had to wait again until we got the approval,” she said.

The missing link

In a report released last month, the Mckell Institute identified the lag in utilising pharmacies as a deficiency in the vaccination program.

The report found that utilising approximately 4,000 pharmacies would speed Australia towards its vaccination targets 41–56 days faster.

The required goal of 80% of the population vaccinated to end state lockdowns would be reached up to 56 days quicker and avoid $12.3 billion in economic costs.

If pharmacies had been onboarded on schedule, more than one million additional doses would have likely been administered as of the date of the report’s release.

According to Michael Buckland, CEO of the Mckell Institute, the uptake of pharmacies administering vaccines in the last fortnight means original targets won’t be met.

“The delay from June, which is when the original plan had us vaccinating 200,000 people a week through pharmacies, means that we are about 1 and a half to 2 million doses short from where we should have been by now, and so we are catching up.

“It’s going to take a major effort to be finished by October as originally planned.”

Buckland said we are likely to hit vaccination targets by Christmas, if no other issues arise.

“What was holding us back was that we weren’t getting pharmacies.”

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