Children in Victoria aged 10 and over will be able to receive their annual influenza vaccination from a community pharmacy by a trained pharmacist immuniser.
With this year’s severe flu season – more 245,000 laboratory confirmed cases of flu and more than 400 deaths recorded nationally – highlighting the need to be vaccinated against the flu, Pharmacy Guild Victorian Branch President Anthony Tassone welcomed the announcement this week from the state’s Health Minister, Jenny Mikakos.
“This is a welcome advance in public health,” Mr Tassone said. “Lowering the minimum age for pharmacist administered flu vaccinations will undoubtedly improve access and save more lives.”
Previously, pharmacist immunisers have been able to administer the flu vaccination only to patients 16 years and over.
Mr Tassone says the move will help broaden public access to evidence-based vaccinations, increase the rates of vaccination and help the effort towards the goal of ‘herd immunity’ in the community to protect Australia’s most vulnerable from infection.
He congratulated the state’s Labor government for allowing pharmacists to vaccinate more Victorians, signalling there were even more opportunities to best utilise the training and expertise of pharmacists for patient benefit.
“Pharmacist immunisers will be able to implement this change without any difficulty because they already receive the same training as other immunisers,” Mr Tassone said. “There’s more work to be done so that Victorians have the opportunity to be vaccinated against the full range of conditions for which pharmacist immunisers in our state have been asked to undertake training.
“We look forward to working with the Minister’s office, the Department of Health and other stakeholders to ensure that the training of Victorian pharmacist immunisers across a broad spectrum of preventable diseases is fully utilised for public benefit.
“Over 13 million Australians have been vaccinated against the flu this year, with over two million having received their vaccination from a community pharmacy. Clearly pharmacists are part of the solution. Giving pharmacists the ability to practise at their full scope, applying their training and expertise, will bring great benefits to our health system.”