Pharmacist Allan Milostic said yesterday's announcement would help quickly and widely deliver a coronavirus vaccination to the Whitsunday community.
Pharmacist Allan Milostic said yesterday's announcement would help quickly and widely deliver a coronavirus vaccination to the Whitsunday community. Supplied

Access to future COVID-19 vaccination made easier

CHANGES that will allow pharmacists to more easily dispense medications and provide a COVID-19 vaccine when it is developed has been welcomed by an Airlie Beach pharmacist.

The Minister for Health and Ambulance Services Steven Miles yesterday announced amendments to the drug therapy protocol that will allow pharmacists a wider range of options when dispensing emergency medications as well as widening the circumstances in which pharmacists can substitute medications.

The changes will also give pharmacists the ability to deliver a COVID-19 vaccine when it is developed, allowing more people to quickly access the vaccine.

Pharmacist at LiveLife Pharmacy in Airlie Beach Allan Milostic said the amendments were a natural step in helping the community deal with the effects of coronavirus.

"The continued dispensing is just a bit of a common sense thing, it's what they did after the bushfires if you lost a prescription or couldn't get in to see a doctor," he said.

"If we could verify you'd been on certain medications, we could give you a full month's supply without a prescription and claim it on the PBS.

"It happens multiple times every single day under normal circumstances when people run out of the medicine they've been on for years and they've been unable to get into the doctor and they've lost their paperwork.

"It's something that should have come in years ago I feel to get people medicine that they were legitimately on."

The amendments will come into play nationwide and Mr Milostic said it would likelier have a bigger impact on cities and built up areas where GP's had closed and there was more pressure on the medical system.

However, he said the ability to administer a COVID-19 vaccination would be beneficial for the whole Whitsundays community, especially for those who couldn't visit the doctor during normal hours.

"I imagine with coronavirus that there'll be a situation where there will be vaccines available on the national immunisation program that will be free of charge for at-risk groups through the doctor's surgeries," he said.

"Where pharmacies fill the gap for this is (that) it's just more places where people can get vaccinated, so you get a better overall coverage and better herd immunity.

"We pick up a lot of those patients that perhaps work full time and find it difficult to get to a doctor routinely. They can pop into a pharmacy later in the evening or on the weekend and get a vaccine administered."

While a vaccine that prevents the spread or contraction of coronavirus has not yet been developed, Mr Milostic was confident one would be available in what he hoped was the near future.

"I really hope that vaccine is out tomorrow … we need it sooner rather than later for everyone," he said.  

"There are very promising vaccines in human trials already and I sincerely hope they'll bypass normal protocols and perhaps find the elderly and at-risk groups that are willing to participate in large scale trials.

"I'm not an advocate for just putting (a vaccine) out into the general community, but if you're in an at-risk group and you've got a chance of getting very ill, I think a lot of them would be more than willing to take part in a trail that will ultimately help all of the population."