Despite months of advocacy, the region's pharmacies have been left reeling after missing out on the state government's latest delivery of rapid antigen tests.
In October, Monaghan Pharmacy chief pharmacist Robin Johns told The Standard she supported the Pharmaceutical Society of Australia's call on governments to protect frontline workers and ensure pharmacies stayed open by providing rapid antigen tests.
While the Victorian government delivered the first three of 44 million RAT kits to critical workers including in healthcare on Sunday, workers in pharmacies missed out as they are were not classed as a critical industry under state rules.
It comes as Warrnambool's pharmacies grapple with a shortage of RATs not only to test staff and stay open, but to sell.
People queued for almost five hours last week at Chemist Warehouse Warrnambool Central when news broke of an expected delivery. Just more than 100 test kits sold out in under an hour.
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Professional Pharmacists Australia chief executive officer Jill McCabe told The Standard pharmacies in regional Victoria were facing increasing pressure to deliver vital services.
"PPA is aware of the particular challenges facing regional and rural pharmacists, which are often amplified due to distance and isolation," she said.
"Local pharmacists in regional and rural communities provide valuable services and advice and we understand the challenges that they are facing at this time due to staffing pressures, including some pharmacists being unable to work due to having COVID or being close contacts.
"The impact of supplying RATs, vaccinations to adults and children, dispensing medications and providing other pharmacy services is also having an extreme impact on the workload and health and safety of pharmacists and the services they can reasonably be expected to deliver at this time.
"The operational requirements of pharmacies have to be balanced with the need to protect the health and safety of pharmacy staff and the communities they support."
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