Pharmacists get new powers on prescriptions

Pharmacists have been given new and extended powers to assist in the safe provision of services during the coronavirus pandemic.


Pharmacists have been given new and extended powers relating to common medicines, opening hours and delivery methods to assist with the safe provision of services during the coronavirus pandemic.

They are also reporting a surge in the number of people opting to get their annual flu shot early.

Pharmacy customers can now receive a wide range of common medicines, even if they have been unable to access a prescription from their doctor. That capacity was first introduced during the bushfire crisis and has been extended to1 June.

Pharmacists can dispense one month’s worth of medicine at the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) price, if people have previously been prescribed that medication and the pharmacist is satisfied it is ‘urgently needed’.

They can also offer professional guidance on forms of medicine and dose strengths when some products are temporarily unavailable.

Pharmacies can also open 24 hours a day during the COVID-19 outbreak to permit greater social distancing for customers.

And vulnerable people, including those aged over 70, anyone with chronic health conditions and those in self-isolation, can now have their prescription medicines delivered to their door through an arrangement between the Pharmacy Guild of Australia and Australia Post.

As with a range of products at supermarkets and even plant nurseries, some purchasing limits have been put in place. Pharmacists can dispense one unit of over-the-counter medicine and one month’s supply of prescription medicine.

For more detailed information on these services, go to the Department of Health.

Pharmaceutical Society of Australia president Associate Professor Chris Freeman said members were already reporting huge demand for the flu shot, with doctors urging everyone to get the vaccination early rather than wait until May, which is the advice in normal years.

“[Pharmacist] flu clinics, which have just started in the last couple of weeks, have been fully booked out,” he said.

The Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP) is urging people aged under 65 to get their flu vaccine earlier. However, older Australians have been advised to wait until later in April for a special vaccine that is specially designed for their age group.

Protecting yourself and your family from the flu with a vaccination now will help reduce the strain on health resources from COVID-19,” said RACGP president Dr Harry Nespolon.

“If people don’t get vaccinated and an increasing number of flu patients and COVID-19 patients require urgent healthcare, lives will be put at risk.”

Pharmacists’ personal safety concerns have been put front and centre before Prime Minister Scott Morrison in an open letter, published in full on, from pharmacists Mohamed Kaoud and Mahmoud Galal.

They are concerned about the lack of adequate protection for all pharmacists and their staff in their interaction with customers, and the extra responsibility that comes with dispensing medication without a prescription.

Have you had trouble getting a consultation with your GP to have a prescription filled? Has your pharmacist been helpful?

If you enjoy our content, don’t keep it to yourself. Share our free eNews with your friends and encourage them to sign up.



    To make a comment, please register or login
    1st Apr 2020
    Had my flu shot 2 days ago. Pharmacies offering the shots for $20 around here but I phoned my surgery and they told me to get it thru the doctor, the shot being a bit different for people aged 65 plus.
    1st Apr 2020
    I’m 67 with COPD and so need the over 65 flu shot. My practice has closed down and pharmacies won’t give me one without a script. Also, I rung around and none of the medical centres are taking new patients. I love in Maryland NSW. Any help would be appreciated. Thank you
    1st Apr 2020
    The newest I heard that in NSW the pharmacies now can give you the shot without script, however they told me that the one for us oldies is not available as yet at chemists. In your case you might have to wait till they come in; maybe the surgeries are supplied first.
    1st Apr 2020
    Why has your practice closed down? I had heard from a person in Qld that if they run out of masks and hand sanitiser that they would close down. The Australians out there flaunting the rules have no idea who bad the crisis that we are currently in is. I hope you can find a way to get the script. I know- go to your member of parliament(try state first). My 23 daughter went for a problem she was having with centrelink. Within 2 hours her problem was solved. You don't need to see the actual member, but tell the secretary- they do all the work etc.
    1st Apr 2020
    I also thought it might be too early to get the over 65
    1st Apr 2020
    My 'regular' clinic closed in January due to doctors going to other practices. One local, and the others intra and interstate, and one to maternity leave.

    I've just seen my 'new' GP for the second time and had to get my new scripts as they had all run out. Now I have my scripts at the pharmacy and when I need to get a new lot, I can ring them and collect them when I'm out shopping.

    I'm at home most of the time, anyway, so this virus isn't doing anything to my social calendar.

    I'm on a list for the flu shot @ the doctors when they become available. I don't have the $20 to spend to get it at the chemist.
    1st Apr 2020
    Sadly, leek, it is the idiot hoarders and the profiteers who've created the false market for masks that forces medical professionals to shut down.

    We can only hope they catch the bug and cannot access treatment.

    Again, hoarding has to be stopped... same faces at the supermarket must be turned away when they show up day after day and stock up on all the restricted items. t least chemists can stop prescription hoarding. Stupid anyway with some things because they have a use-by date and can become ineffective.
    2nd Apr 2020
    Karen, it wouldn't surprise me that my pharmacy will get many expired medications from all the hoarding, we are expecting it.
    The Thinker
    1st Apr 2020
    I had my 65+ flu shot last Monday at my doctor's surgery. They sent a text it's available and to make an appointment. I am surprised the Chemists can't get them sooner.
    1st Apr 2020
    Might also depend on the State you're living in perhaps?
    1st Apr 2020
    I am 72 and my GP gave me the shot for older Australians the other day. So is the article correct or have I been given the weaker dose ???
    1st Apr 2020
    New policy at my pharmacy - when I picked up my scripts on Friday, no need to sign.
    2nd Apr 2020
    Yes Robyn, I annotate all rxs that are picked up, to prevent infection.
    1st Apr 2020
    Having an ear infection, my kindly doc sent through a prescription for antibiotics - and added in ventolin. I get it but rarely use it, and had only replaced a week ago, so the chemist rightly refused it.

    Medications MUST be brought under control - some very stupid people are removing all the pain-killers and amassing fortunes in them in their back room or somewhere - stupid and selfish.

    I also noted the wording of the sign in the supermarket - "One item of this kind per SHOP' - meaning you can go out the turnstiles, come back in endlessly and just keep buying.

    Now with all the talk about how long this could last, this insanity is crying out for a ration card. Welcome to wartime Auschtraliawitz....

    A little self-control and use of the brain nature gave you works better, dumkopfs!
    1st Apr 2020
    Looking into the future: September 4, 2050, George opened the last pack of toilet rolls his parents bought way back in 2020.
    1st Apr 2020
    ....and as my final gesture on this earth, I leave my entire hoard of toilet paper in the double garage to my distant nephew, since my immediate family never appreciated it ...

    (uproar at the will reading)....
    1st Apr 2020
    I was told by my Medical Centre that the flu shot for over 65's won't be available until mid-April!
    2nd Apr 2020
    I am a my work, there are plenty of flu injections but we don't do vaccinations and I prefer not to. Regarding the over 65 flu shot, where I am, it is only available for free in doctor's clinics. I took my 86 year old father for his shot the other day, plenty available.

    Where I am we are allowed continued supply on prescriptions, only if the patient has been on the medication for a while, such as high blood pressure, the pill, cholesterol and antidepressants with an extensive history on our system. If the patient is new , I and has no history on our system at work, I would call the doctor to aak if it is okay to allow continued supply. Drugs of addiction, benzodiazapines, sleeping tablets etc are not allowed as continued supply.

    Pharmacists have been subjected to abuse, are on the front line and are at risk as well as who knows someone is a carrier or has the disease??? I am petrified to go to work but have no choice financially.

    Sanitisers and masks are out of stock, so I have had to find my own supplies elsewhere

    An article from the age highlighting how pharmacists have been victims of abuse.
    6th Apr 2020
    Laura, admire all you hard working & helpful Pharmacists & wasn't surprised when visited mine 2 wks ago to fulfil a regular 2mthly script to find not only huge red STOP signs at the entrance - had to wait, just a few secs, to enter as they were limiting number of customers allowed inside & had recently installed clear perplex screens to protect both themselves/their receptionists & possibly their customers from Covid-19 transmission - good on 'em.
    6th Apr 2020
    Thanks for your kind words Loloften, love your name. If someone is elderly, frail , I don't let them wait outside as I have frail, elderly parents, and don't want them to get sick. I have understanding customers who respect the older patients and are happy to wait outside, practise social distancing, so that the elderly patients get their prescriptions quickly. We have installed plastic, glass screens, and I don't leave the dispensary as much, minimise my interactions and I do feel somewhat safer but I am still scared...I don't want to pass the disease onto my parents as I am their carer ( I only work 2 days a week) but financially I need the money to help them buy food and pay bills etc, Cheers
    2nd Apr 2020
    I see censorship is alive and well at Your Life Choices. Why was my post removed? Was it because I do not believe the popular narrative you guys obviously seem to happy to promote. So it's not okay to have a differing view huh.... I would far rather err on the side of safety than be injected with untried, untested vaccines of questionable contents that many say are harmful. If you want to be injected with who knows what, that's your business but at least let people with a different belief put it out for others to consider. Very disappointing.
    6th Apr 2020
    Hi Funkee - like you, I have one now middle-aged child who doesn't believe/never had a flu vaccination, very gratefully he's fit/well & never had the Flu. However I've had 'em annually for past 40yrs since 1st started working in hospital Admin Depts as all staff were required to have it (free - sacked if refused!?) & also have never had the Flu since!? This yr's early release of Flu vaxs is a special precaution ie: more chance of dying if diagnosed with both Flu & Covid-19 at the same time.
    9th Apr 2020
    I agree with you Funkee, but yes it is hard to go against the grain even if you have done your own research and come to your own conclusions people do not want to hear it. I never get the flu jab and never get the flu either. Soon we will have to fight against Bill Gates plan to have every human vaccinated against Covid 19, wow he will be the richest person in the world and for what?

    Join YOURLifeChoices, it’s free

    • Receive our daily enewsletter
    • Enter competitions
    • Comment on articles

    You May Like