Exasperated Reti tells government to authorise pharmacists immediately to give the jab

By Marena Mane

If pharmacies are authorised to administer other vaccines, why can't  they be authorised to give the Covid-19 jab immediately overnight?

That question came today from the exasperated National health spokesperson Dr Shane Reti, who says the compliance requirements are too onerous but the pharmacies are needed to give the jab, parti'cularly in the outbreak epicentre, Auckland.

“How can this be so hard? Why can it not be a policy decision tonight and tomorrow, all pharmacies that can vaccinate are vaccinated for coronavirus. It's that simple,” he says.

Reti says that if he were governing the country he would make the call tonight to approve pharmacists to vaccinate. He says out of 400 pharmacists in Auckland, “the key target city of concern,” last week only 12 were credentialled to give the vaccine.

Pharmacists are already credentialed and already approved to give other vaccinations. “Let them vaccinate for coronavirus it's really simple, this call could be made tonight.”

Only 3% of pharmacies in Auckland are authorised to give the vaccination, even though 13% of pharmacies outside of Auckland .

He says 1800 pharmacists around the country who are not being used to administer the vaccine to speed up the vaccination rollout. He recalls that in 2018, there was a terrible measles outbreak and, by the time the outbreak was controlled, pharmacies had given a total of 28 vaccines, which he considers a "very poor effort."

“At that rate, it will be another 100 days before all of the pharmacies who want to vaccinate can, So I don't understand it -make that policy change tonight.”

Changes in National’s portfolios

The National caucus was reshuffled last week and deputy leader  Reti kept his health portfolio with the addition of child poverty. Over the next 12 months, Reti's focus will be on fine-tuning the team to attain maximum productivity and efficiency in what they do, he says.

Harete Hipango will now take over Reti's Children's portfolio, which includes Oranga Tamariki, as well as her other portfolios, which include Whānau Ora, Māori development and Māori tourism, and Reti feels Hipango is a great fit.

“We're looking to continue to step up, continue to do what we do well, continue to bring reasonable, rational arguments for what we're doing well and solutions for how we can improve this, which is what we want to be doing.”