Flu dries up after record vaccinations

With only 52,000 cases of influenza reported this year, one fifth of last year’s 250,000 cases, Health Minister Greg Hunt has hailed the contribution of community pharmacies across Australia.

This year’s successful primary care vaccination program helped deliver the lowest rates of flu in Australia since 2013 with a record 11 million Australians receiving the flu vaccine, almost a third more than in 2017.

Unprecedented demand for the vaccine early in the 2018 season led the federal government to secure an additional 1.3 million doses for the National Immunisation Program, state programs and the private market.

“Collaboration between GPs, community pharmacies and other vaccination providers across Australia encouraged the uptake of flu vaccinations this year,” Mr Hunt said.

Pharmacy Guild National President George Tambassis says community pharmacies are proud of the contribution they made to this public health success story, but he stresses that more can still be done.

“National Immunisation Program vaccines for influenza high-risk patient groups are currently available through community pharmacies in only two states – Victoria and Western Australia,” he said.

“These vital vaccines should be available through community pharmacies in all states and territories to provide equal access for all Australians through their local pharmacy and pharmacist vaccinator.”

Pharmaceutical Society of Australia NSW Branch President Professor Peter Carroll said: “The administration of vaccines by community pharmacists complements the excellent work done by GPs. It helps to increase the vaccination rate and herd immunity within the community.

“Allowing community pharmacists to vaccinate people against influenza has clearly resulted in a significant increase in the number of people vaccinated and contributed to the dramatic and very welcome drop in the death rate caused by influenza.”

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