Slow vaccine rollout under fire with SEQ pharmacies yet to receive doses
As more than 130 pharmacies across regional Queensland welcome doses of COVID-19 vaccinations, Sunshine Coast and Ipswich have been left in limbo.
There are almost 50 community pharmacies throughout the state who currently offer the jab, and that number will more than double with an extra 83 jumping on board.
But those pharmacies only cover regional and rural Queensland, with no official date set for when residents in Brisbane, the Sunshine Coast and Ipswich can get a jab at their local chemist.
Pharmacy Guild of Australia Queensland acting president Chris Owen says while it is great news for regional Queensland, it should have been available a lot sooner.
He explains patients living in metro areas are confused about why they cannot get a vaccine at their local chemist, but can somewhere else hundreds of kilometres away.
"We were scheduled to go out in March, we put our expressions of interest back in February and we're now in July and still don't have those pharmacies in metro locations," Mr Owen says.
Pharmacies in the regions did not start giving out doses until June 7, and an extra 186 regional pharmacies have already been approved to administer vaccines at the beginning of August.
Mr Owen is blaming the Federal Government over the slow rollout and calling for the immediate approval of the remaining 521 community pharmacies in metro areas.
"This is to do with the amount of vaccine shortages that they have had, and we can completely understand that, but we now have an excess of AstraZeneca vaccine available in all markets.
"The only thing stopping it is political will at this point," he says.
A Federal Health Department spokesperson says community pharmacies with vaccines in regional areas are addressing barriers to access for those who cannot get a jab elsewhere.
The spokesperson explains there is also planning underway for these pharmacies to deliver mRNA vaccines from September.
"All community pharmacies will be offered an opportunity to respond to the invitation to participate in the mRNA vaccine roll-out program.
"Further information regarding this process will be announced shortly.
"Metropolitan areas in Queensland are currently being well serviced by General Practices."
A list of participating practices can be found through the COVID-19 Vaccine Clinic Finder by visiting https://www.health.gov.au/resources/apps-and-tools/covid-19-vaccine-eligibility-checker.