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Pharmacists nation-wide tipped to give flu jab

pharmacist
Photo: PSA president Grant Kardachi
Pharmacists right across Australia could be administering vaccines in the lead up to this year’s flu season, according to the Pharmaceutical Society of Australia (PSA).

PSA president Grant Kardachi said he expected pharmacists in every state and territory will be providing the influenza vaccine within months.

“Most states are now in the process of activating the appropriate legislation - some have done it and some have still got to do it,” he said.

“I think certainly most were waiting on the results of the Queensland trial and with that being so positive, I think now they are ready to proceed.

“I would expect all our jurisdictions to be ready to go for this coming winter.”

Pharmacists in South Australia, Western Australia and the Northern Territory have been given the green light to administer flu vaccinations in the wake of the success of last year’s Queensland Pharmacist Immunisation Project (QPIP).

A parliamentary inquiry in Victoria has also recommended the state establish a pharmacy immunisation trial.

Until the Queensland trial, community pharmacies have used nurse immunisers in a bid to introduce their own vaccination programs.

The QPIP, an initiative of the PSA and the Pharmacy Guild of Australia, delivered about 11,000 vaccinations.

Results showed 96 per cent of people vaccinated were ‘completely satisfied’ with the pharmacist-delivered vaccination service and 97 per cent would return to a pharmacy for future vaccinations.

Fourteen per cent had never previously received a vaccination while 38 per cent had been vaccinated but not every year.

Mr Kardachi said one of the positive results from the Queensland trial was the number of ‘walk-ins’.

“It really means what we are doing is not really competing with GPs for a lot of it - a lot of it is people who wouldn’t normally have had a vaccine,” he said.

“I think that’s a really important thing. Obviously there is a gap there and if pharmacy can fill that gap, that’s really important from a public health benefit and getting immunisation rates up.”

Mr Kardachi said pharmacist-delivered vaccinations provided benefits, such as improving immunisation rates while taking the pressure off already over-stretched GPs.

He said the organisation now promotes pharmacies as “health destinations”, while pharmacists are keen to take on immunisation provision.

“It certainly is an area of what we call professional service which includes vaccinations, medication reviews and primary health care and a number of other roles that pharmacists are quite capable of doing,” he said.

“There are a number that are ready to move into that area in addition to their more traditional role of dispensing.

“A lot of these other roles are certainly within the capability, skills and confidence of pharmacists.

“We believe if they can be utilised to the degree that they can be, it can certainly be a big advantage for the health care system to take the pressure off some other areas.”

The PSA has released revised immunisation guidelines in line with the growing number of jurisdictions moving to allow pharmacist-delivered vaccinations.

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Karen Keast

Karen Keast is a freelance health journalist who writes news and feature articles for HealthTimes.

Karen regularly writes for some of Australia’s leading health news websites and magazines.  In a media career spanning 20 years, Karen has worked as a senior journalist in newspapers and television. She has covered the grind of daily news and worked as a politics reporter at countless state and federal elections.

Since venturing into freelance writing five years ago, Karen has found her niche in writing about the health sector for editors, businesses and corporations.

Karen has interviewed the heads of peak health organisations in Australia and overseas, and written hundreds of news and feature articles covering the dedicated work of health professionals who tread the corridors of hospitals and health services, universities, aged care facilities and practices, day in and day out.

Follow Karen Keast on Twitter @stylemywords