Labour making it too hard for pharmacies to vaccinate

The Government should be making it as easy as possible for our pharmacies to become authorised to administer the Covid-19 vaccine, especially while the country is locked down due to a Delta outbreak, National’s Health spokesperson Dr Shane Reti says.

Only 3 per cent of pharmacies in Auckland, which is currently the epicentre of New Zealand’s Delta outbreak, are authorised to administer the Covid-19 vaccine. Across the country only 13 per cent of pharmacies are authorised.

“It’s not for lack of trying, pharmacists are all too willing to put their hands up and vaccinate the country. But the compliance they have to go through, even though they administer vaccines regularly, is so cumbersome that only two to three pharmacies a day can get their credentials.

“This is because the process involves ‘accessors’ and there aren’t enough of them.

“It’s the same huge burden of compliance GPs face, involving three visits, 150 questions and, unbelievably, evidence of an entrance and exit.

“Pharmacies and GPs already have the quality standards to vaccinate. To add layers and layers of bureaucracy shows a lack of trust by the Government, and a total lack of urgency.

“There are 1800 pharmacists across the country not being utilised when they should be.

“If we want to get our vaccination rate up we should be using GPs and pharmacists. These are the health professionals New Zealanders trust, it beggars belief we aren’t using them more.

“We don’t want to be in the same position that we were in during the 2018 measles outbreak. At the end of that outbreak only 20 vaccines had been administered by pharmacists.

“The Government has had at least six months to authorise pharmacies and GPs to vaccinate for Covid-19, but has squandered that to focus its money and energy on an unwanted cyclebridge and the health system restructure.

“Labour needs to get smart about turning around its negligently slow vaccine rollout. We should be making much greater use of our pharmacies and GPs.

“The Government shouldn’t be forcing them to go through such an extensive credential process when they administer vaccines regularly, it’s madness.”