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News & Trends - Pharmaceuticals

Pharmacists to deliver flu vaccines, but GPs oppose the fragmentation of care

Health Industry Hub | May 25, 2022 |
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Pharma News: The Pharmaceutical Society of Australia’s (PSA) welcomes the Government’s announcement that will allow greater access to influenza vaccines for all Queenslanders.

The announcement from Queensland Health Minister Yvette D’Ath ensures that pharmacists and general practice are supported to offer free vaccinations to all Queenslanders from the age 6 to 64.

PSA Queensland Branch President, Shane MacDonald, said that the move will improve vaccination accessibility for Queenslanders, including children while also valuing the expertise of and availability of pharmacists.

“PSA is appreciative that the Queensland Government has headed our calls for greater access to influenza vaccines through local pharmacies.

“Pharmacists played a significant role in vaccinating Australians throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, as one of our most accessible healthcare workforces. They are trained and experienced in vaccinating younger children.

“We are already seeing early spikes in influenza cases in Queensland, beyond pre-pandemic levels. This indicates we are going to experience a significant influenza season this year. We are delighted that pharmacists will now be able to contribute to increasing influenza vaccine uptake across Queensland, to ensure Queenslanders are kept safe this influenza season.”

Most urgent priorities to be addressed by the new Labor government – Liz de Somer, Medicines Australia

RACGP President Adj. Professor Karen Price said recently that the decision could have unintended consequences.

“Patients are better off receiving their vaccines from their usual GP,” she said.

“Pharmacists may claim that GPs require support as we manage patients who have delayed or avoided screenings and consultations during the pandemic; however, this is not a valid reason to extend the community pharmacy vaccination program as it leads to fragmentation of care during this critical period as pandemic-life returns to normalcy.

“Where is the modelling? Is this an evidence-based policy or is this the result of political lobbying? Are we providing a solution to a problem that does not exist? There is evidence of the benefits of embedding non-dispensing pharmacists within practices and the RACGP is always keen to explore collaborative solutions; however, these changes are not something we support.”

PSA National President, A/Prof Chris Freeman, has urged other states and territories to follow.

“One of PSA key priorities pre and post Federal election is to support access to vaccination by subsidising pharmacist vaccine administration costs for consumers. PSA reaffirms its commitment to free, accessible influenza vaccinations for all Australians by their local pharmacist. Across Australia, consumers face out of pocket expenses for vaccines if delivered by pharmacists, whilst the same service is subsidised if done at a general practice.

“We urge all states and territories, and the new Federal Government, to follow Queensland’s lead by ensuring pharmacists can deliver influenza vaccines without consumers facing out-of-pocket expenses,” A/Prof Freeman concluded.


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