How to get the medications you need during coronavirus lockdown
While staying home will help stop the spread of coronavirus, it’s still important to make sure you have any regular medications you need. Here’s how to get them safely.
Whether you have a chronic illness, a sick child, or simply need your regular first aid creams or nutritional supplements, getting the medications and health products you and your family need is an important part of staying well amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Health professionals around Australia have put in place a number of measures to help you safely access the medicines and health advice you need.
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How to safely see your health professional
All Australians with a Medicare card can now visit a range of health professionals, including GPs, without leaving their homes.
Telehealth – a consultation involving video and audio – and telephone consultations can now be bulk-billed.
Telehealth consultations allow doctors, nurses, midwives and allied health professionals, including those in mental health, to provide important care without unnecessary exposure to risk of infection.
Services like Instant Consult also offer on-the-spot online GP consultations and can issue medical certificates, prescriptions, radiology and pathology requests and specialist referrals. Consults are bulk-billed, with scripts sent directly to a nominated Chemist Warehouse store for collection.
While GP practices remain open for face-to-face care for those who require a physical examination, telehealth consults are suitable for managing chronic conditions that are reasonably stable (such as diabetes, high cholesterol, or high blood pressure), getting repeat prescriptions, exploring mental health issues, discussing diet-related problems, or getting a referral.
How to get prescriptions
Prescriptions can be sent electronically by your doctor either to your phone or email, or directly to your pharmacist.
People who have a confirmed or suspected case of COVID-19, or are considered vulnerable, or are in quarantine, can have medications delivered to them via Home Medicines Services.
Are there enough medicines to go around?
Pharmacies are an essential service and Chemist Warehouse is maintaining extended trading hours to provide Australians with crucial medicine and other health products.
While medicine shortages are not predicted as a result of coronavirus, there are restrictions on the amount of some prescription and over-the-counter medicines pharmacists are permitted to dispense to avoid stockpiling.
How to get medications and other pharmacy products
Click and collect
Chemist Warehouse offers a click and collect service, which allows customers to shop online and pick up their order from a participating store within four hours.
This enables customers to obtain their medicines and other pharmacy products while minimising their physical contact in-store.
Chemist Warehouse has increased staff resources for online services and is encouraging people to take advantage of its new home delivery service, which is free for orders over $50. Customers simply call their local store to place an order, or use the click and collect service, calling their local store once their order is placed to arrange delivery.
As part of the Federal Government’s Home Medicine Services funding, vulnerable Australians may qualify for free delivery of PBS prescriptions.
Free next-business-day delivery of medicines and other essential products is available once per month for those isolating at home on the advice of a medical practitioner, people aged over 70, and those with chronic health problems, and is delivered by Australia Post.
You can still pick up your prescription medicines in store.
Chemist Warehouse stores have implemented a range of cleaning and hygiene measures to keep customers and staff as safe as possible.
Hand sanitiser is available at store entries, and customers are being asked to provide their own pen for signing prescriptions.
In addition to usual cleaning procedures, cleaning and disinfection of high-traffic areas and hard surfaces has been increased.
There is also a limit to the number of customers permitted in store at a time, and there are markers throughout the store and at counters to ensure people maintain a distance of at least 1.5 metres from one another.
Consultations with pharmacists in relation to health advice are still available, though non-essential services such as make-up testing are not being offered at this time.
How pharmacists are easing pressure on medical services
The Federal Government is advising that an annual flu vaccination is more important than ever, particularly for Australians in vulnerable risk or age groups.
As many medical clinics are under pressure, many pharmacies, including Chemist Warehouse, are stepping up to help to ease the load by offering in-store flu vaccinations.
Additional protective measures are in place, including electronic consent forms and pre-immunisation checklist to minimise wait time in store, enhanced pre-screening for COVID-19 symptoms and customers who should be self-isolating, and use of personal protective equipment for the immuniser.
Waiting areas have also been arranged to ensure a 1.5 metre distance between customers.
Essential coronavirus advice and information
Remember, if you are experiencing symptoms of coronavirus, call the 24/7 hotline on 1800 675 398. You can also use the Healthdirect symptom checker.
Instant Consult offers on-the-spot online GP consultations and can issue medical certificates, prescriptions, radiology and pathology requests and specialist referrals.
For the most up-to-date health advice and government information on coronavirus, visit:
- World Health Organisation
- Australian Government coronavirus updates
- Federal and state/territory government sites:
Written by Claire Burke.