LOCAL pharmacist Greg Hollier is waiting for the go ahead from the Government so he can start providing the AstraZeneca jab in Kempsey.
The NSW Government recently released a pilot program for pharmacies to administer the COVID-19 vaccine in regional areas, but Kempsey isn't part of that initial phase.
The 22 pharmacies in the pilot are located in towns where a vaccine clinic or GPs are limited due to geography, these include Old Bar, Bellingen, Urunga and Dorrigo.
Mr Hollier, owner of the Amcal pharmacy in Kempsey, is supportive of the program.
"I am very for it, I think it's one of the things that will get the vaccination program moving in real numbers. Pharmacists have been giving flu shots for a while, so we already have the infrastructure in place for recording and the provision of it. I just think they need to roll it out quicker," he said.
"They asked for expressions of interest last year, which we participated in, and we have been accepted, but now we are just waiting our turn to be included in the rollout."
When the Argus inquired if he believes the local community are interested in getting the vaccine he said "I get asked about 50 times per day, constantly fielding requests about when the rollout starts. It's a pity there isn't enough information out there about where people can get it."
Research by The McKell Institute found accelerating the rollout of vaccines into pharmacies could help Australia reach its vaccination target of 80 per cent up to two months faster than on current projections, avoiding $12.3 billion of economic costs.
The McKell Institute's executive director Michael Buckland said the research showed it was incumbent upon the Federal Government to pull out all stops to ensure pharmacies were brought online.
"The Government now understands we are in a war against COVID-19, so it's baffling it's been so slow to deploy one of our most powerful divisions - the nation's pharmacies," Mr Buckland said.
There are plans to bring forward significant additional COVID vaccine access points through community pharmacies in both rural and metropolitan areas.
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