COVID-19 Information and Resources

COVID-19 Vaccination EOI

The Expression of Interest (EOI) for community pharmacies to participate in the COVID-19 vaccination roll-out has now closed.

Community pharmacies will join the nation-wide effort to administer the COVID-19 vaccine to millions of Australians.

All section 90 community pharmacies were invited to submit an EOI to participate in the delivery of the COVID-19 vaccine to priority populations from Phase 2A onwards of the national rollout strategy, planned to commence from May 2021.  The EOI process will be managed by the Pharmacy Programs Administrator (PPA) on behalf of the Department of Health.

Community pharmacists will be vaccinating patients from Phase 2a of the national vaccine roll-out strategy, giving millions of Australians the option of having their vaccination at their local pharmacy.

Pharmacists and pharmacy assistants will be vaccinated as part of Phase 1b, recognising their essential role as health care workers, and standing them in good stead to advise and assist patients seeking information on the vaccine.


Timeline

DateMilestone
1 February 2021Information on EOI process and requirements published on Health website and PPA website
5 February 2021EOI process opens / link to EOI response form sent
19 February 2021EOI close date / last date for submitting EOI responses
19 March 2021 (date TBC)Respondents notified of outcome


Need assistance in becoming COVID-19 vaccination-ready?

Your Business Support Team is here to help and support you. If you have any questions or would like more information on the COVID-19 vaccination process, please contact your team at business.support@qldguild.org.au or 07 3831 3788.


Important Resources

Pharmacy Vaccinations During COVID-19

Jump to question:

  1. Should I be providing an influenza vaccination service in light of the COVID-19 pandemic?
  2. How do we maintain social distancing while vaccinating?
  3. Does the patient still have to wait for 15 minutes after their vaccination?
  4. Should I wear a mask and/or gloves while vaccinating?
  5. Is vaccinating considered close or casual contact in the event that a patient later tests positive for COVID-19?
  6. Should we still be offering influenza vaccinations to patients?
  7. Should I be recommending a booster vaccination if the patient has already received a flu vaccination earlier in the season?
  8. Should pharmacists provide flu vaccinations to patients who are over the age of 65?

1. Should I be providing an influenza vaccination service in light of the COVID-19 pandemic?

Yes, if you have the capacity and trained staff. Influenza vaccination is an important measure to prevent influenza and its complications and is especially important during the COVID-19 pandemic, particularly for front line healthcare workers and at-risk people. However, all steps must be taken to minimise the risk of COVID-19 transmission to staff and patients attending vaccination services.

This information has been collated from several different sources, including Queensland Health’s COVID-19 Advice for vaccine service providers.

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2. How do we maintain social distancing while vaccinating?

Everyone must practise social distancing to slow the spread of COVID-19.

The Commonwealth and the states and territories note the role of pharmacists in providing care and services to patients, and sometimes these services need to be conducted in close proximity (e.g. administration of vaccines). It is the Department’s understanding that the physical distancing requirements, enforced through the states and territories, are exempted for health care facilities, including pharmacies.

However, social distancing must still be adhered to where possible by maintaining a distance of 1.5m between each person in the pharmacy and limiting the number of people in your pharmacy at one time.

Additionally, the Queensland Pharmacist Vaccination Standard (April 2020) acknowledges that it may be more suitable for a pharmacist to administer a vaccination in another location in the immediate vicinity of the pharmacy if this poses a lesser risk to the consumer. E.g. to a person in their seventies whilst they are sitting in a parked car outside the pharmacy.

General procedures do not need to change while performing vaccinations, if you have triaged the person and confirmed they are not suspected of having COVID-19.

However, there should be consideration of ways that patient contact both between the pharmacist and other patients can be minimised. For example:

  • Complete the pre-assessment checklist outside of the consult room. Do not hand a pen to the patient to self-complete. This can be completed by the pharmacist or done electronically through the use of professional services software.
  • Informed consent can be either written or verbal as long as the consent is recorded, therefore there is no need for the patient to sign a consent form and use a pen.
  • Ask the patient to wait outside the consult room until the vaccination is prepared.
  • Invite the patient into the consult room. Consider keeping the workspace clear of all unnecessary items and move the patient’s chair back from the desk to avoid them touching it.
  • Encourage the person being vaccinated to turn their face away from the person administering the vaccination.
  • Ensure that hand hygiene is performed before and after preparation and administration of the vaccine and between each patient.1
  • Ask the patient to leave the consult room but remain within the area to be monitored for 15 minutes – consider assigning an appropriately trained staff member to watch over-vaccinated patients in an area that maintains social distancing.
  • Ensure administration, clinical and patient areas are wiped down frequently (and between patient encounters) using a sodium hypochlorite based solution, as per the COVID-19 cleaning and disinfection recommendations.
  • You should consider the need to extend normal appointment times to allow for the additional cleaning required.
  • Ensure that seating and standing queuing areas meet the current recommendations for social distancing (at least 1.5 metres). If standing, mark each standing position with an ‘X’. If seated, chairs must be spaced appropriately to maintain social distancing and cleaned between use.

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3. Does the patient still have to wait for 15 minutes after their vaccination?

The latest version of the Queensland Pharmacist Vaccination Standard (April 2020) still states the need for consumers to be directly observed for 15 minutes post-vaccination. However, the Standard acknowledges that it may not be practical for consumers to remain in the pharmacy for 15 minutes while still complying with social distancing requirements. In this circumstance, pharmacists must take other appropriate measures to ensure any acute adverse events or anaphylaxis can be dealt with.

Those mechanisms may include such things as requesting the consumer to wait outside the premises or providing the consumer with the pharmacy’s telephone number and instructing them to remain in the immediate vicinity for 15 minutes. In any instance, the consumer should be directly observed on the premises for as close to the 15 minutes as possible before the alternate mechanisms are applied.

Consumers who choose to leave early are to be counselled on the possible risks of not being monitored and appropriate notes should be made in the clinical record that they left the premises before the post-vaccination period ended.

In addition, the Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (ATAGI) released a statement on the duration of observation following a vaccine in the context of COVID-19. The statement advises that where adequate social distancing is not possible, a post-vaccination period of at least FIVE minutes may be sufficient in some circumstances. Click here to read the full statement.

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4. Should I wear a mask and/or gloves while vaccinating?

As per Queensland Health’s COVID-19 Advice for vaccine service providers, PPE additional to that normally used as part of your routine immunisation service is not recommended. However, the Guild acknowledges that it may be the preference of some vaccinating pharmacies to use masks and/or gloves.

Before making the decision whether or not to wear masks and/or gloves, pharmacists should remain up to date with current recommendations from Queensland Health and the World Health Organisation. Another important consideration is whether pharmacists are appropriately informed on how to correctly use and dispose of PPE, and being aware of rational use of PPE.

More information about PPE is available here.

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5. Is vaccinating considered close or casual contact in the event that a patient later tests positive for COVID-19?

Performing a vaccination would not normally be considered close contact.

Close contacts are people who have had face-to-face contact with a confirmed or probable case for more than 15 minutes in total over the course of a week. You are a close contact if:

  1. You have had three chats of five minutes each over seven day, for example.
  2. You have shared an enclosed space with a confirmed or probable case for more than two hours.

This contact period is counted from 48 hours before the start of the person’s symptoms.

Using the suggested procedures to minimise time spent in the enclosed space of the consult room should mean that providing a vaccination would rarely, if ever, constitute close contact.

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6. Should we still be offering influenza vaccinations to patients?

As immunisation providers, pharmacists should adhere to recommendations made by the Chief Medical Officer and the Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (ATAGI) about the most appropriate time to vaccinate. Currently, the recommendation is that flu vaccination should commence in April so that immunity can last through the peak period.

Vaccination should continue to be offered as long as influenza viruses are circulating and a valid vaccine (before expiration date) is available.

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7. Should I be recommending a booster vaccination if the patient has already received a flu vaccination earlier in the season?

No, as per ATAGI recommendations, revaccination later in the same year is not routinely recommended but may benefit some individuals due to personal circumstances, such as travel or pregnancy.

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8. Should pharmacists provide flu vaccinations to patients who are over the age of 65?

This is a decision that must be made by the patient after the pharmacist has informed them of the adjuvanted quadrivalent influenza vaccine available through the National Immunisation Program. This adjuvanted formulation is preferentially recommended in patients over the age of 65. These vaccinations will not be available to pharmacies.

If a patient decides that they would prefer to be vaccinated in the pharmacy, then vaccination using the standard formulation in this age group should not be denied. It is preferable to vaccinate with the standard formulation than risk the patient missing a vaccination completely.

Pharmacists should consider the need to record, in detail, the conversation had with the patient and reasons that the decision was made to vaccinate in pharmacy.

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COVID-19 Frequently Asked Questions

Jump to question:

  1. If COVID-19 is confirmed in a pharmacy staff member, is there a need for the pharmacy to close for trade for a period of time?
  2. What if a patient presents to the pharmacy with a suspected case of COVID-19 or symptoms of a respiratory tract infection?
  3. What if there is a confirmed case of COVID-19 by a patient, do we need to close the pharmacy?
  4. What is the definition of close contact?
  5. What is social distancing and how can this be done in a community pharmacy?

1. If COVID-19 is confirmed in a pharmacy staff member, is there a need for the pharmacy to close for trade for a period of time?

No. There is no requirement for the pharmacy to close.

Any potentially contaminated surfaces should be cleaned with an appropriate cleaning product, such as household disinfectant or diluted bleach solution. Regular pharmacy cleaning should be increased. The staff member and any close contacts (as defined below) need to isolate themselves and seek COVID testing. A combination of these actions and their impact on staffing levels may indirectly lead to a temporary closure of the pharmacy.

When an individual returns a positive result for COVID-19, Queensland Health will undertake contact tracing to prevent the virus from spreading further through the community. As part of this process, the individual with a positive result will be contacted by a member of the contact tracing team to determine close contacts. If a staff member is deemed as being a close contact with a confirmed case of COVID-19, they will be required to self-isolate. A community pharmacy is not expected to contact or advise other patients who have attended the pharmacy.

Information regarding contact tracing is available here.

NB. Staff with COVID-19 symptoms, no matter how mild, should not go to work. They should get tested and isolate pending the test results.

Suspect case definition: Staff with direct patient contact have a fever (≥37.5oC) or history of fever (e.g. night sweats, chills) OR an acute respiratory infection (e.g. shortness of breath, cough, sore throat), OR loss of smell or loss of taste are classified as a suspect case and should be tested.

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2. What if a patient presents to the pharmacy with a suspected case of COVID-19 or symptoms of a respiratory tract infection?

Pharmacies should display posters/signs at the entrance of the pharmacy, asking people to self-identify as ‘at risk’ of COVID-19 to highlight this to staff immediately.

Patients should be given a surgical/procedural mask (if available) to wear during the pharmacy presentation.

Masks can be obtained from your local Primary Health Network.

Pharmacy staff assisting the patient should wear a surgical/procedural mask. Limit the number of staff who come in contact with the patient.

Explain and be aware of different symptoms if the patient has COVID-19 compared with a cold, or the flu.

Pharmacies should have a space where pharmacists can isolate patients with suspected COVID-19 infections and accompanying carers or family.

Refer to: COVID-19 Community Pharmacy Isolation Room/Area Document

Consider calling the below:

  • 13 HEALTH (13 43 25 84) or,
  • National COVID Hotline 1800 020 080 or,
  • The patient’s GP to discuss COVID-19 testing, or
  • An ambulance if the patient has severe symptoms such as difficulty breathing.

Depending on the severity of symptoms, a patient waiting for COVID-19 results will either be admitted to hospital and isolated or advised to return home and self-quarantine. The patient’s treating doctor will determine whether a patient is admitted to hospital or self-quarantined at home.

Thorough environmental cleaning and disinfection guidelines for community pharmacy should be followed on a regular basis, in addition, to immediately following the patient presentation.

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3. What if there is a confirmed case of COVID-19 by a patient, do we need to close the pharmacy?

No. There is no requirement for the pharmacy to close.

Any potentially contaminated surfaces should be cleaned with an appropriate cleaning product, such as household disinfectant or diluted bleach solution. Regular pharmacy cleaning should be increased.

When an individual returns a positive result for COVID-19, Queensland Health will undertake contact tracing to prevent the virus from spreading further through the community. As part of this process, the individual with a positive result will be contacted by a member of the contact tracing team to determine close contacts. If a staff member is deemed as being a close contact with a confirmed case of COVID-19, they will be required to self-isolate. A community pharmacy is not expected to contact or advise other patients who have attended the pharmacy.

Information regarding contact tracing is available here.

NB. Staff with COVID-19 symptoms, no matter how mild, should not go to work. They should get tested and isolate pending the test results.

Full COVID-19 testing recommendations from Queensland Health are available here.

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4. What is the definition of close contact?

Close contact is considered those who have had face-to-face contact with a confirmed or probable novel coronavirus (COVID-19) case for a period more than 15 minutes cumulative over the course of a week in any setting in the period extending from 48 hours before the onset of symptoms, or those who have shared an enclosed space with a confirmed or probable COVID-19 case for more than two hours in the period extending from 48 hours before the onset of symptoms in the confirmed or probable case.

If you have been in close contact with someone who has been confirmed positive or a probable case of COVID-19, you are required to self-quarantine for 14 days from your last contact with them. If you become unwell during your isolation period, it is recommended to seek medical advice immediately.

For information on the case definition for COVID-19 pharmacies may wish to consult the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) CDNA National Guidelines for Public Health Units, which is being regularly updated. It is available online here.

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5. What is social distancing and how can this be done in a community pharmacy?

Social distancing is a way to stop or slow the spread of infectious diseases. The Commonwealth and the states and territories note the role of pharmacists in providing care and services to patients, and sometimes these services need to be conducted in close proximity (e.g. administration of vaccines). It is the Department’s understanding that the physical distancing requirements, enforced through the states and territories, are exempted for health care facilities, including pharmacies.

Pharmacy staff should:

  • Practice good hand and sneeze/cough hygiene
    • Put alcohol-based hand rub dispensers in prominent places around the pharmacy especially at counters where surfaces are touched.
  • Stay at home if sick and get tested
  • Speak to patients from a safe distance (at least 1.5m) to avoid contact with respiratory droplets, and other staff.
  • Stop handshaking
  • Avoid touching face, nose and mouth
  • Hold meetings via video conferencing / phone call
  • Direct the flow of incoming patients and avoid grouping patients together:
    • Space out waiting area chairs
    • Dedicate a staff member to assist in explaining social distancing to patients
    • Signage in front of your pharmacy to instruct symptomatic patients to move directly towards a specific location.

Further information on practising good social distancing and COVID-19 is available here.

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Business Continuity and Human Resources

Jump to information about:

  1. Business Preparation
  2. Locum Support
  3. Staff and Patient Education/Signage
  4. Cleaning and Infection Control
  5. Masks and PPE

1. Business Preparation

  • Prepare and implement a Business Continuity Plan
  • Reallocate staff and resources to prepare for COVID-19
  • Consider alternative pathways for collecting medicines
    • leave prescriptions on file,
    • call ahead to order,
    • carers to collect prescriptions to minimise attendance by symptomatic patients.
  • Review annual leave arrangements and vacancies in key areas.
  • Role substitution or redeployment of staff at higher risk of infection. For example, deployment of immunosuppressed staff to back-of-house functions without direct patient contact.
  • If possible, group staff into teams which operate independently of each other and rotate through shifts. This strategy will minimise contact with between the team in the unfortunate event a team member falls ill.
  • Encourage sick staff members to remain at home
  • Staff with COVID-19 symptoms, no matter how mild, should not go to work. They should get tested and isolate pending the test results.

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2. Locum Support

PhARIA 2-6

The Emergency Locum Service Program is available to rural pharmacy owners for use in emergencies.

To be considered eligible, an emergency situation must be in place.

In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Emergency Locum Service has made some changes.

An 'emergency situation' now includes if the pharmacist is:

  • Isolating themselves at home on the advice of a medical professional, for confirmed COVID-19
  • Meets the national triage protocol for suspected COVID-19 infection after consultation with a COVID-19 hotline (state or national), a register medical or nursing practitioner or COVID-19 health clinic triage staff.

The maximum duration of emergency locum support has been extended to 14 days.

You can make an application for an emergency locum at the ELS Provider website or by telephone on 1800 357 001 24/7.

  • No recruitment fee
  • Travel expenses covered and organised
  • Aims to place a locum in any location in Australia with 24 hours
  • Contact Emergency Locum Service 1800 357 001
  • No available subsidies from 6CPA
  • Extensive list of locums on standby to assist
PhARIA 1
  • Contact Emergency Locum Service 1800 357 001
  • No available subsidies from 6CPA
  • Extensive list of locums on standby to assist

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3. Staff and patient education and signage

Display signage/posters in the pharmacy to encourage patients and staff to practice hand hygiene, cough etiquette and respiratory hygiene whilst in the pharmacy and generally in the community.

All healthcare workers should observe usual infection prevention and control practices in the workplace. This includes healthcare workers and other staff in any setting who have direct patient contact.

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4. Cleaning & Infection Control

Employers should provide information and brief all employees and contract staff, including cleaning staff where applicable, on relevant information and procedures to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Infection prevention and control is imperative for protecting staff, patients, and consumers. All community pharmacists and staff should observe usual infection prevention and control practices in the workplace

Cleaning is an essential part of disinfection. Pharmacies should start implementing these practices now, even if COVID-19 has not arrived in the communities where they operate.

If rotating teams of staff, ensure cleaning procedures are conducted at completion of each shift in preparation for the new group of staff.

Cleaning staff should wear impermeable disposable gloves and use alcohol-based hand rub before putting on and after removing gloves.

In combination with current pharmacy cleaning processes, please refer to Community Pharmacy Environmental Cleaning and Disinfection for COVID 19.

This 30-minute online module is tailored for healthcare workers in all settings. It covers the fundamentals of infecting prevention and control for COVID-19. Pharmacies and their staff can access via

For more information on environmental cleaning of places where people suspected of, or confirmed to have, COVID-19 infection may have been (including processes, protective equipment to be used and cleaning solutions) please click here.

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5. Masks and PPE

The Department of Health has made a limited supply of surgical masks available for pharmacy staff and presenting patients. The latest information can be found here. Community pharmacies are eligible to access the supply for their staff to use when there is no available commercial supply, and:

  • their staff are required to be in direct contact with patients/clients at less than 1.5 metres, and there may be community transmission of COVID-19 in their area
  • they have significant contact with people presenting with fever or respiratory symptoms (irrespective of level of community transmission of COVID-19).

Under this criteria, pharmacies can order masks through their local Primary Health Network (PHN):

Queensland Health has developed a quick reference guide on the recommended PPE for the care of confirmed, probable and suspect COVID-19 cases, this can be found here.

Pharmacy staff should be trained in the correct fitment of surgical masks.

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6. Pathology and testing

What are the current pathology timeframes and locations in Queensland?

Once the pathology laboratory has received the specimen, the turnaround time is generally between 24-72hours.  However, as the number of specimens received increases the turnaround time is likely to increase.

Please click here for information regarding testing and fever clinics.

There is also a Queensland Fever Clinic & Respiratory Clinics list available for download and print.

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Pharmacy Services

Jump to information about:

  1. Vaccinations
  2. Deliveries
  3. Aged Care
  4. Stock
  5. Telehealth

1. Vaccination

Influenza vaccination is an important measure to prevent influenza and its complications and is especially important during the COVID-19 pandemic, particularly for front line healthcare workers and at-risk people. Click here for more information.

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2. Deliveries

Pharmacies should adhere to their current Delivery Procedures and include additional procedures to address requirements for delivery to suspected or confirmed COVID-19 patients.

Refer to:

The Guild's COVID-19 - Home Medicines Delivery Services FAQs contains generic information relating to home medicine delivery services, including information concerning the Australia Post home delivery service.

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3. Aged Care

COVID-19 – Community Pharmacy Aged Care Services guide provides guidance for those community pharmacies servicing a Residential Aged Care facility (RACF) during the COVID-19 measures and to support a community pharmacy’s risk management practices.

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4. Stock

The Department of Health (DoH) is closely monitoring medicines supply, and working with stakeholders, wholesalers and health professional groups to identify and address issues relating to supply.  Australian law requires medicines companies to report current and anticipated shortages of prescription medicines and certain over-the-counter medicines. Shortage notifications for health professionals and consumers can be found on the Medicine Shortages Information Initiative web page.

Serious Shortage Substitution Notices

The Queensland Government implementing changes under the Communicable Diseases Program drug therapy protocol to allow community pharmacists to substitute specific medicines without prior approval from the prescribing doctor in certain situations where medicine is unavailable at the time of dispensing.  Medicines identified for substitution will be communicated in a Serious Shortage Substitution Notice on the TGA website. Notices will tell the pharmacist which medicines are allowed to be substituted. Current Serious Shortage Substitution Notices can be found here.

COVID-19 limits on dispensing and sales at pharmacies

The demand for medications has increased in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. To ensure fair and equitable access to medications, the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) released a media statement on 19 March 2020, which supports pharmacists to limit dispensing of certain prescriptions to a one-month supply at the prescribed dose, and the sale of certain over-the-counter medications to a maximum of one unit per purchase. Medications which are on the affected products list can be found on the Australian Government, Therapeutic Goods Administration website.

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5. Telehealth

Commonwealth arrangements for telehealth prescriptions allow pharmacists to dispense and claim from a copy of a prescription transmitted by the prescriber.  These arrangements have been enacted under the Communicable Diseases Program drug therapy protocol. Fact Sheets for pharmacists, prescribers and consumers have been produced by the Commonwealth, and the Guild has prepared a FAQ document to help members.

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For more information, please contact:
Business Support Team

Phone

07 3831 3788

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Page last updated on: 23 February 2021