Young Canberrans will be able to get the AstraZeneca vaccine at pharmacies across the ACT when they join the COVID-19 vaccine rollout in a few weeks' time.
ACT Health will expand the vaccination program at pharmacies to allow them to provide people aged above 18 the AstraZeneca vaccine with informed consent on the risks and benefits.
It was announced last week about 60 pharmacies across Canberra could join the rollout, and were expected to start administering the vaccine by mid August.
The territory has followed suit of NSW who announced on Tuesday, chemists would join general practices in being able to provide the vaccine to over 18s.
"To be consistent with NSW, and in-line with the Commonwealth's primary care vaccine rollout, the ACT will change our pharmacy immuniser standards to enable pharmacists to administer AstraZeneca vaccines with informed consent to people aged 18 years and over," an ACT Health spokeswoman said.
"We will continue to engage with pharmacies and sector representatives throughout this process."
Current pharmacy immuniser standards would only allow people over the age of 50 to get the COVID-19 vaccine at a chemist.
Pharmaceutical Society of Australia vice president, and former ACT Chief Pharmacist Renae Beardmore welcomed the "sensible decision" which the organisation had been lobbying for since June.
She said the choice to get a vaccine was often "opportunistic" and the ability for people, particularly young people who don't have a regular doctor, to "walk in and have that vaccine done on the spot" would boost the rollout.
The Pfizer vaccine is the preferred vaccine for people under 60 because of a small risk of a rare but serious blood clotting condition.
Under-60s can choose to receive the AstraZeneca vaccine and be informed on the risks and benefits for them by a medical professional.
The Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation has advised during a large outbreak, the benefits of the AstraZeneca vaccine are greater than the risks of the rare side effect regardless of age, urging Sydneysiders to get any vaccine available as its case numbers surge.
University of Sydney Associate Lecturer in Pharmacy Andrew Bartlett said chemists were well suited to have the conversation about the risks and benefits.
"There was 2 or 3 million flu vaccines given in pharmacies last year ... a lot of those people don't have a regular GP, and otherwise wouldn't have got a flu vaccine," he said.
"There's quite good evidence that we're reaching people that wouldn't otherwise get vaccinated."
Pharmacies approved to provide the vaccine have private consultation rooms and are trained in ensuring patients can provide informed consent and understand the risk profile.
Capital Chemist Braidwood managing partner Kayla Lee said being able to provide the vaccine to young people would see demand "go through the roof".
The regional store was one of the first NSW pharmacies to start providing the COVID-19 vaccine about two weeks ago.
"We're already having conversations with people [under 40]," she said.
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