In a world focussed on managing and ultimately finding a vaccine for COVID-19, Gorilla Jobs believes people in pharmacy jobs are mostly unsung heroes.
Pharmacists Response to COVID-19
Health workers across the globe, including the many in pharmacy jobs, face one of the greatest challenges of our time as they help manage communities through the COVID-19 pandemic.
However, for those in pharmacy jobs, a distinct set of challenges has emerged, and these good professional citizens are often among the unsung heroes in our battle with COVID-19.
While many initially think of frontline health workers as doctors, nurses and hospital staff, people in pharmacy jobs have been an integral part of the response to COVID-19. The notion of them being integral more broadly to the medical sector, however, is not new.
Even as recently as World Pharmacist Day in 2019, the WHO was promoting pharmacists as much more than just dispensers of medicines when they highlighted the work of a French pharmacist:
“On World Pharmacists’ Day, Gilles’s story illustrates the frontline role that community pharmacists are increasingly playing in delivering health care.”
Fast forward seven months and this statement couldn’t be more apt. Not only have those in pharmacy jobs had to manage the needs of customers often desperate for low-running stocks of simple non-prescribed items such as sanitiser, soap and disinfectant - copping a range of completely unacceptable abuse in the process - they have also had to adapt their roles during the pandemic.
Some governments have put restrictions or limits on dispensing and sales, further fuelling customer anger or frustration; the International Pharmaceutical Federation (FIP) has published comprehensive guidelines for those in pharmacy jobs worldwide; and non-COVID-19 routine vaccination services have had to be more carefully administered, with fears emerging of a drop in child vaccinations during this period, the consequences of which could be outbreaks of up-til-now contained diseases, such as rubella, mumps and whooping cough.
A raft of regulatory changes, many of them temporary, have also occurred over a very short period, primarily around:
- Digital image prescription
- Expanded Continued Dispensing
- Therapeutic substitution
- Telephone order by prescriber
- Emergency supply of a medicine
This has meant anyone in a pharmacy job has had to be particularly nimble in changing established work practices to face the new regulations, and also must be careful to stay on top of any other regulation changes as they occur.
But looking ahead, much greater challenges potentially lay in store for pharmacists
COVID-19: Towards a Vaccine
Reports vary widely as to how far away we are from having a COVID-19 vaccine. Many hundreds, if not thousands, of medical scientists across the globe are working on a range of possible vaccines.
Some are trying to adapt current vaccines for use against COVID-19, with little in the way of positive results so far, while others are attempting to create unique vaccines that normally would be in development for up to five years, but which might be fast-tracked, meaning they are still 12-18 months away.
Whichever way it falls, those in pharmacy jobs could face a perfect COVID-19 storm when a vaccine is developed and safely released.
Given regulations around providing National Immunisation Program (NIP)-funded influenza vaccinations to persons aged 65 years and over came into effect in 2020, it would come as no surprise that the government could look to pharmacies to help in the rollout of a COVID-19 vaccine, meaning millions of people will present at pharmacies for vaccinations.
So, while the race for a vaccine rolls on, there can be little doubt pharmacists will continue to contribute greatly with their work on the COVID-19 frontline and possibly become even bigger players in managing COVID-19 in the future.