Community Pharmacies in the Azores Express Readiness to Administer COVID-19 Vaccines
Pharmacists in the Azores Ready to Join Vaccination Strategy
The community pharmacists in the Autonomous Region of Azores, Portugal, have expressed their eagerness to participate in the vaccination strategy against influenza and COVID-19. This readiness was communicated through a letter by Hélder Mota Filipe, the head of the Order of Pharmacists. In his letter, Mota Filipe emphasized the unique advantages that pharmacists offer, including safety, accessibility, comfort, and availability of service.
Mainland Portugal Launches Joint Influenza and COVID-19 Vaccination Campaign
In mainland Portugal, the seasonal vaccination campaign against influenza and COVID-19 for 2023/2024 has been launched on September 29, with 2,300 community pharmacies actively participating. This strategy provides free vaccination to risk groups. However, the situation is different in the Azores. The Azorean government has decided to centralize COVID-19 vaccinations in health centers and hospitals in the region, leaving only influenza vaccines to be administered in community pharmacies.
Azorean Government Accused of Undervaluing Community Pharmacists
In his letter to the Regional Secretary of Health and Sport and the President of the Regional Government, Mota Filipe accused the Azorean Government of undervaluing the role of community pharmacists in increasing vaccination coverage. This approach contrasts with the strategy on the mainland and in many European countries where community pharmacists are actively involved in the vaccination process.
Community Pharmacies in the Azores Prepared for COVID-19 Vaccination
Juliana Matos, the regional delegate of the Order of Pharmacists in the Azores, stated that the archipelago has about 20 pharmacies with pharmacists trained to administer vaccines. She further stressed that community pharmacies in the Azores are prepared to administer COVID-19 vaccines and argued that it would be to the region’s advantage if they were included in the Regional Health Service’s vaccination strategy.
Pharmacies Fill Geographical and Socioeconomic Gaps
Matos pointed out that national and international evidence shows that vaccination in pharmacies receives a high level of satisfaction from the public, contributes to population immunization, and increases patient vaccination coverage. Community pharmacies could also fill geographical and socioeconomic gaps in national coverage. A recent national study on the availability of COVID-19 diagnostic tests in community pharmacies highlighted this impact on reducing access inequalities.
Awaiting Response from the Azores Regional Health Directorate
The Order of Pharmacists has not yet received a response to the letter. However, the Azores Regional Health Directorate has stated that it would respond by Friday, indicating that the matter is being considered. The involvement of community pharmacies in the Azores in the COVID-19 vaccination strategy would contribute significantly to the overall vaccination coverage in the region and reduce access inequalities.
Subscribe to BNN Breaking
Sign up for our daily newsletter covering global breaking news around the world.