Pharmacists may be authorised to provide influenza vaccinations to children as young as 10 under regulation changes being considered by the South Australia government.
Current regulations require a child to be at least 16 to receive a flu vaccination from a pharmacist in the state, but SA Minister for Health and Wellbeing Stephen Wade says the changes would make it easier for parents to get their children vaccinated and help build herd immunity ahead of the next flu season.
“We’ve just experienced a particularly bad flu season and it’s important we’re proactive in preventing the disease by ensuring as many people are vaccinated as possible,” he said.
“Organising to get to the GP for a flu vaccine, especially for parents with children aged between 10 and 16, can often be a difficult exercise.
“That’s why we’re looking at giving parents more opportunities to get their children vaccinated, so more South Australians are protected against the potentially fatal disease.”
Mr Wade says the changes would have a particular benefit in regional areas where access to GPs is more limited.
The Pharmacy Guild’s South Australia Branch supports the proposed change in regulations.
If adopted by the SA government, the move would bring Australia a step closer to national harmonisation of flu vaccination delivery though community pharmacies, the Guild says.
SA Branch President Nick Panayiaris congratulated the government for proposing the change.
“This will be a welcome advance in public health,” he said. “Lowering the minimum age of pharmacist-administered flu vaccinations will undoubtedly improve access and save more lives.”
This flu season, SA Health distributed more than 630,000 doses of funded flu vaccine, yet 106 people in the state lost their lives to the disease.
Mr Panayiaris says pharmacist immunisers will be able to implement this change without any difficulty because they already receive the same training as other immunisers.
“Clearly pharmacists are part of the solution and giving pharmacists the ability to practise at their full scope, applying their training and expertise, will bring great benefits to our health system”, he said.