Criticism from doctors over the Tasmanian government’s decision to allow pharmacists to administer flu vaccinations to children from the age of 10 is misguided and ill-informed, Pharmacy Guild Tasmanian President John Dowling says.
His comments are in response to RACGP President Harry Nespolon’s claims that the state government’s decision could put young patients at risk and that pharmacists did not have the medical training required to safely deliver vaccinations and respond to associated risks.
“These unfounded claims by the RACGP are simply untrue, and are quite frankly getting old and stale,” Mr Dowling said, adding “the views reflect a sad lack of understanding of patient needs”.
“The facts are that pharmacists have been administering the flu vaccine since 2015 across Australia without any severe reactions or negative effects to patients,” he continued. “Pharmacists are specifically trained, in immunisation, including in first aid, how to handle adverse effects and anaphylaxis. Pharmacists are also highly trusted, and the trust that the Tasmanian government and Tasmanians have in community pharmacy was clearly reflected in the meningococcal immunisation program that saw pharmacists vaccinate children aged 10 and up.
“More and more people are receiving the flu vaccine from their local pharmacies and last year we saw between 900,000 and one million people around the country get the vaccine at their local pharmacy.
“With the severe flu season we are already experiencing this year, pharmacists across the country are likely to vaccinate even more people than last year, which means that the messages to get vaccinated are getting through.”
Mr Dowling says this is great news as it shows community pharmacists are making a real difference in keeping people well and out of hospitals.
“But clearly the facts don’t suit the RACGP narrative,” he said.
“Perhaps the RACGP should listen to its own members because most doctors recognise that providing this service in pharmacies means GPs have more time to consult with other consumers who are unwell.
“The fact is that local community pharmacists and local GPs work extremely well together.
“Instead of focusing on fabrications and spreading vitriol, the RACGP should be out there promoting vaccinations as the best way to protect people from the flu. There needs to be a refocus on the responsibilities that we all, as healthcare workers, have to the communities we serve.”