PSA welcomes Moderna for children, but pay parity for vaccination services not on the Government’s radar.
Thursday 24th February 2022
The Pharmaceutical Society of Australia (PSA) welcomes the provisional approval of the Moderna vaccine for children aged six years and over, but remains deeply concerned by the ongoing pay disparity when it comes to pharmacist remuneration.
A second COVID-19 vaccine option is now available for Australian children following yesterday’s decision from the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA), but pharmacists’ remuneration for administering vaccines is still inadequate.
PSA National President, A/Prof Chris Freeman, welcomed Moderna’s inclusion, but said that the Government has run out of excuses to deny pharmacists equal pay for vaccination services.
“It is pleasing that Australian parents and their children are now able to choose from two highly-effective vaccines, adding another weapon to our arsenal for protecting the nation’s youth.
“Pharmacists have administered nearly 6 million vaccines to Australians, a sizeable contribution to the vaccination program – and I thank each and every pharmacist immuniser out there who has contributed to the program so far.
“Whilst increased vaccine choice and further expansion to eligibility are positive moves, it results in increased pressure on primary health, especially for Australia’s pharmacists.
“These changes signify progress in the fight against COVID-19, but under the surface, the inequality in pharmacists’ remuneration for administering these vaccines continues to jeopardise the program’s viability.
“Introducing a single MBS service payment to pharmacists for assessing suitability and administering vaccinations funded through the NIP will ensure that vaccines such as COVID-19 and influenza remain viable through community pharmacy.
“When it comes to vaccinations, you are receiving exactly the same service irrespective of location. However, huge discrepancies still remain between pharmacist remuneration and that of other health providers.
“Despite providing exactly the same service to an equally high standard, a discrepancy of $8.45 to that of other health providers still remains for pharmacists administering childhood doses. It is simply insulting.
“Toward the end of last year, we saw what can be achieved with better resourcing, as a $10 increase to vaccination payments for boosters precipitated record weeks of vaccinations – but now it is time for the Government to take the next step and remunerate pharmacists equally by providing a single MBS payment.
“This is critical to keeping the vaccine rollout program on track, particularly in relation to childhood vaccines, where they have reverted back very low payments for pharmacists. Subsequently, only half of the pharmacy network has opted to provide immunisations to this group.
“How much longer is it going to take them to recognise just how nonsensical this is?”
The following table shows a breakdown of the pay rates for different providers:
|*MM1 Fee||*MM2-7 Fee||*MM1 Fee||*MM2-7 Fee|
|First Dose Administration||$16||$19||$31.05||$37.70|
|Second Dose and Booster Dose Administration (by same provider)||$26||$29||$34.45||$37.80|
|Childhood 5-11 First Dose Administration||$16||$19||$24.45||$27.80|
|COVID-19 Vaccine Suitability Assessment (billable once only)||Nil||Nil||$39.10||$39.10|
Pharmacists receive a flat $26 for administering a booster vaccine, whilst GPs may be able to claim additional dose administration ($34.45), and a suitability assessment ($39.10) for a total of $63.55. This is higher for GP’s in rural areas and after hours.
No after-hours payments are available for pharmacists despite many providing access outside of normal business hours.
If all three doses and a COVID-19 Vaccine Suitability Assessment are provided by the same practitioner, in a major city, a pharmacist would receive $68, whilst a GP would receive $139.05.
*MMM = Modified Monash Model defines whether a location is a city, rural, remote or very remote. It measures remoteness and
Media contact: PSA media 0424 777 463