Pharmacists believe the national vaccine rollout could be finished months faster if more are allowed to take part.
The Pharmacy Guild of Australia expects the rollout to take another 408 days without their involvement.
But that could be slashed to 241 days if thousands of pharmacies already classified as suitable to deliver the vaccines were included.
“It’s just beyond belief we are not using the thousands of pharmacies at our disposal to get millions of vaccines out of fridges and into people’s arms,” guild president Trent Twomey told The Australian.
“It’s not an issue of training, infrastructure, supply or consumer confidence – all this is, is bureaucratic red tape which is slowing down the process towards herd immunity.”
Almost 50 pharmacies in rural Queensland began administering the coronavirus vaccine on Monday, following a national cabinet decision allowing states to decide whether or not to include them.
Queensland is so far the only jurisdiction to approve the use of community pharmacies.
“We’re very excited the first pharmacies will be activated in rural Queensland and the Palaszczuk government have committed to a phased rollout,” Mr Twomey said.
“What we haven’t had is a commitment from other states and territory jurisdictions to do the same.”
Pharmacists have lobbied the Victorian government in recent weeks to allow them to administer vaccines, with state-run immunisation centres faced with lengthy queues.
Mr Twomey said community pharmacies would be a better alternative to mass vaccination hubs.
“It makes no sense when you have a highly contagious epidemic like coronavirus to encourage people to cluster in large numbers in large locations like hospitals and footy stadiums when you can have a decentralised approach done in localised settings in a much safer way.”
Mr Twomey said while there were issues with vaccine supplies early in the rollout, millions of doses were now being produced and procured each week.
“We know from international examples in the developed world pharmacies have been used to administer jabs and achieve much higher rates of community vaccination,” he said.