Marulan Pharmacy, near Goulburn, and Capital Chemist in Braidwood are among the first 22 pharmacies across regional and rural NSW that will begin administering the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine.
NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian announced the pilot program last week in a bid to boost the vaccine rollout, with only about 17 per cent of the Australian population vaccinated so far.
“Local pharmacists have been administering vaccines, including yearly flu shots, for some time in NSW,” said Member for Goulburn Wendy Tuckerman. “I’m delighted Marulan is designated as a location to assist the phased rollout of the AstraZeneca vaccine.”
Pharmacist Shabab Hasan – known by locals as Bob – expects the COVID-19 vaccine to be available from mid-July for people aged 60 years and above in Marulan.
“We’re very excited at Marulan Pharmacy to be at the forefront of the community pharmacy rollout of COVID-19 vaccines,” he said.
“In times of uncertainty like this, it is especially crucial for the pharmacy to be able to support the very community it is built upon.
“Not only does this initiative make COVID-19 vaccinations accessible to our rural and remote populations, but also allows this to happen in the comfort and care of the local pharmacy.”
Marulan resident Ron Switzer is already fully vaccinated with AstraZeneca, but said this is excellent news for people who aren’t and that it will prepare the pharmacy for when it can administer the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines.
However, some people in regional areas are still nervous about AstraZeneca.
Kate Van Laarhoven, from Marulan, said she is immunocompromised but still would only consider getting vaccinated if the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines are available.
“I’m sure many locals would consider getting vaccinated, but the trust factor for AstraZeneca is low,” she said.
Community pharmacies will need to meet certain standards in order to administer the AstraZeneca vaccine, such as agreeing not to vaccinate a person aged under 60; gaining written consent from a patient; enforcing mandatory training for vaccinators; and recording each vaccination.
“I am enthusiastic that this initiative is a step forward in the right direction, and will commit community pharmacies across the state to order soma a greater level of involvement in high-quality patient care,” said Mr Hasan.
Additional pharmacies are expected to join the COVID-19 vaccination program in the future.