Community pharmacies playing bigger role in delivering flu vaccinations

KeepHealthCare.ORG – Community pharmacies playing bigger role in delivering flu vaccinations

COMMUNITY pharmacies are playing a bigger role in the flu vaccination program to boost immunisation rates among the vulnerable before the peak season arrives in August.

About 400 pharmacies are part of a two-year trial for people aged over 65 years to access the quadrivalent vaccine at a pharmacy.

Pharmacy Guild WA acting president Andrew Ngeow said last year the age group had only 60 per cent coverage for flu vaccinations through the National Immunisation Program (NIP).

“Community pharmacies see about 130,000 members of the public on a daily basis and hence has the reach to increase access. We can do this safely at little cost to the government,” he said.

“After such a bad flu season nationally last year, and with a high level of publicity about the need for vaccination, the uptake of vaccination administered by pharmacists in WA has been rapid.”

He said the increase in flu awareness had put pressure on supplies, but more vaccines were expected in mid-July.

“We have been advised by the Department of Health that community pharmacy will be provided with additional quadrivalent vaccine on the NIP for use with 65+ aged patients,” he said.

“So far, there have been around 1200 laboratory confirmed cases of flu in WA this year, compared with 6000 cases in the full year 2017.”

He said it was not too late to have a flu vaccination to raise the level of immunity across the community.

“We will continue to provide immunisation services for adults 18+ as long as stock is available,” he said.

A WA Health Department spokesperson said small quantities of influenza vaccines for all age groups were available.

“The Commonwealth Government has been successful in sourcing additional supplies of vaccine for children and adults less than 65 years, but not the enhanced vaccines for people 65 years and older,” she said.

“For those people unable to access the enhanced vaccine, the regular, adult vaccine can also be used instead,” she said.

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