Pharmacy students and interns were an "untapped resource" before the pandemic hit and should be allowed to vaccinate people permanently, pharmacists say.
Fourth-year students and interns were called on to bolster Victoria's COVID-19 vaccination efforts as part of a "surge workforce" under the Andrews' government's public health emergency orders.
Earlier this month, their involvement was extended to administering flu jabs under supervision.
But when the orders expire - potentially in July for COVID-19 and in September for flu - they will not be allowed to continue.
Melbourne's Monash University launched a pilot to get students and interns through their vaccination training, with four weeks' hands-on experience in a community pharmacy to coincide with their mandatory month's placement requirement.
Twenty people have gone through the program and another 40 will start in mid-July.
However, with a yearly pharmacy cohort of more than 240 students, senior lecturer and pharmacist Steven Walker says there is a big opportunity for their continued involvement in community vaccination.
Beyond the public health orders expiring, Mr Walker hopes the Victorian government might consider changing legislation so students and interns can continue vaccinating people.
"Currently in Victoria, only pharmacists are permitted to do formalised training to become accredited immunisers," he said.
"That's different to other states (where) students and interns are able to complete such courses and be recognised as accredited immunisers.
"Given the government's been encouraging people to get the influenza vaccine with the recent changes in eligibility for free vaccines, there was a huge amount of workload for those community (pharmacies)."
The Pharmacy Guild of Australia agrees students and interns who have done the required training should continue vaccinating under supervision.
Not only would this help the already stretched health system but using students and interns to their full potential could improve retention rates, Victorian branch president Anthony Tassone said.
"If pharmacy students and intern pharmacists are seen to have been a safe and appropriate resource as part of temporary emergency arrangements during the COVID pandemic, we do not see any reason for it to not be permanently allowed," he said.
Victoria's Department of Health will continue to collaborate with key stakeholders to ensure service delivery models meet the state's vaccination program needs, an official said.
"Any review of the role of pharmacy students and intern pharmacists in relation to immunisation will consider the public health need, available evidence and the needs of the healthcare system," the official said.
The student surge workforce was intended to be a temporary measure to address the strain on the health system, brought on by COVID-19.
Almost 39,000 new cases and 59 deaths were reported in Australia on Wednesday.
LATEST 24-HOUR COVID-19 DATA:
NSW: 11,067 cases, 11 deaths, 1526 in hospital with 40 in ICU
Tasmania: 1174 cases, one death, 38 in hospital with five in ICU
WA: 5921 cases, four deaths, 229 in hospital with 14 in ICU
SA: 2847 cases, no deaths, 235 in hospital with eight in ICU
Queensland: 5366 cases, 20 deaths, 597 in hospital with 11 in ICU
ACT: 1458 cases, no deaths, 116 in hospital with one in ICU
Victoria: 10,777 cases, 23 deaths, 463 in hospital with 25 in ICU
NT: 334 cases, no deaths, 20 in hospital with four in ICU.
Australian Associated Press
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