The federal government will fast-track the visas of pharmacists to support the nation’s ongoing COVID-19 vaccine rollout.
Immigration Minister Alex Hawke on Tuesday announced the occupation would be added to the Priority Migration Skilled Occupation List (PMSOL), which outlines priority visa processing.
The decision comes as thousands of pharmacies across Australia are invited to join the vaccine rollout to help accelerate the program.
“With thousands of community pharmacies across Australia being invited to join the COVID-19 vaccine rollout, it’s all hands to the pump as the COVID-19 vaccine rollout continues,” Mr Hawke said.
The three new visa categories added to list include hospital pharmacist (251511), retail pharmacist (251513) and industrial pharmacist (251512).
This would result in priority visa processing for pharmacists across the hospital, retail and industrial sectors.
Currently, just over 16 per cent of the population in Australia has been fully vaccinated, with around 11 million vaccines administered across the country.
But the nation’s rollout has faced delays over the limited availability of Pfizer doses and changes in medical advice around the AstraZeneca vaccine.
The government says more pharmacies are set to join the nation’s rollout as demand grows for vaccinations due to the increased risk posed by the highly contagious Delta variant.
Last week, Health Minister Greg Hunt said 118 community pharmacies were providing vaccines across the country, with the number to increase to 470 by the end of the month.
From the start of this week, over 3,900 pharmacies who have indicated interest in joining the program were invited to come on board across regional and metropolitan areas.
“The Morrison government will support pharmacies across Australia, including through skilled migration, as supply of COVID-19 vaccine doses increases over the coming weeks,” Mr Hawke said.
The three additional occupations brings the PMSOL to 44 in total.