Province announces pharmacists will play role in phase two of vaccination delivery

Pharmacists in the province are on board to play a key role in the delivery of vaccinations, the provincial government has announced.

Pharmacists will be delivering the COVID-19 vaccine through community pharmacies in Phase 2 of the provincial immunization plan, the province said Feb. 22.  The participation of Saskatchewan pharmacists will significantly increase public access to the vaccine, improving the rate of vaccination.

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“We appreciate that Saskatchewan pharmacists are ready to step up and deliver the COVID-19 vaccine,” Minister of Health Paul Merriman said in a release. 

“The Government of Saskatchewan is working hard to make sure COVID-19 vaccine is safely delivered into the arms of Saskatchewan residents through all possible avenues.”

Details of the plan for pharmacy delivery of the COVID-19 vaccine are currently under development, including which community pharmacies are participating.

“We are proud to join other health care professionals in providing safe, timely access to COVID-19 vaccinations for Saskatchewan residents,” Pharmacy Association of Saskatchewan Board Chair George Furneaux said.

The government has negotiated a tentative new pharmacy Proprietor Agreement with the Pharmacy Association of Saskatchewan on behalf of all Saskatchewan pharmacies.  

The Agreement establishes the fee for pharmacist delivery of COVID-19 vaccines, along with increases in prescription dispensing fees and influenza vaccine fees.  It is for a one year term, beginning March 1, 2021.

“The new agreement acknowledges the growing role of the pharmacy sector in advancing effective primary health care delivery in Saskatchewan,” Furneaux said in a release from the organization. 

“It further advances our longstanding commitment to the Province’s Connected Care strategy.”

The highlights of the contract include adjustments to professional fees and compensation for COVID-19 vaccine administration.

The maximum dispensing fee has been adjusted to $11.85 per prescription, an increase of 25 cents. This is the first increase since 2018. According to the release this change recognizes the increasing complexities and costs related to safe drug therapy and distribution.

There will also be a COVID-10 vaccine administration fee for the duration of the pandemic recognizing the current exceptional conditions.

“This remuneration recognizes both the expanding role of pharmacists in primary health care, and the sector’s significant and sustained investment in adapting operations to ensure safe patient care as the pandemic enters its second year,” the release stated.

There will also be a retroactive two dollar increase in flu administration fee for the 2020-2021 and an increase to $14 from $13 per flu vaccination for the upcoming season.

Another part of the contract has been put in place to support patient access to medications in the event of drug shortages, the contract also includes strengthening the Therapeutic Drug Substitution program to include more support tools, including remuneration, for pharmacists to use in exceptional situations such as drug shortages. 

“In the early months of the pandemic, pharmacists willingly stepped up and invested in modifying their operations to serve patients safely close to home,” Furneaux added. 

“It’s encouraging to see that this contract acknowledges both our contribution and our commitment to patient care in collaboration with our colleagues in health care.”

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