Community pharmacy is becoming a vital vaccination provider, says Samantha Kourtis, proprietor of the award-winning Charnwood Capital Chemist, in welcoming the news that Canberran pharmacists will be able to offer flu jabs.
Under new changes to ACT health regulations announced today, trained pharmacists will now be able to administer flu vaccines at community pharmacy sites across Canberra.
“Next for pharmacy is whooping cough and MMR, and we can’t wait to follow in the footsteps of Queensland!” says Kourtis.
“We’re seeing whooping cough outbreaks across Australia now, we’re seeing measles outbreaks – if we can vaccinate more people who wouldn’t otherwise get vaccinated, that’s where immunisation in community pharmacy is going to go.
“Allowing pharmacists to vaccinate across the country reinforces the fact that we’re competent health professionals that can provide this service safely and efficiently.”
The Charnwood Capital Chemist has taken further steps into vaccination than other pharmacies across the Territory, and Kourtis says that this experience has shown her how well accepted pharmacy flu vaccination across the ACT will be.
“We’re in a unique position in that last year we had the first ever privately employed nurse get prescription rights for flu vaccination in the ACT,” Kourtis says.
“Having the service available every hour of trade means we are completely in line with the goals of the immunisation policy. What this means is that people have got timely access to this professional service where they can receive a flu vaccine, they can do it after hours, and they don’t need an appointment with the GP.
“It’s a much more efficient and effective service in pharmacy as it’s so accessible, and it’s great the people in the ACT will have that.”
Kourtis says that by improving availability of flu vaccines via the registered nurse, the Charnwood Capital Chemist administered vaccines to a much wider range of people.
“We had 10 times more vaccines administered, and we did some demographic data on those people,” she says.
“The majority of those people were people who did not qualify for the National Immunisation Program and people who were highly likely, otherwise, not to have had their flu vaccine due to the logistics of getting into a doctor. Part of this was that it costs them more money to go to the doctor than to pay for the service at the pharmacy.”
She says that the future of immunisation in community is looking bright, and that concerns from other stakeholders about issues such as fragmentation of care are unlikely to eventuate because of the professionalism displayed by pharmacy.
“We’ve been really mindful of not fragmenting care,” Kourtis told the AJP. “I believe that’s what community pharmacists will do across the country.
“If people are eligible for the National Immunisation Program, we’ll refer them to the GP. If they’re eligible for other vaccines, or if they’re at-risk people –people who may need Pneumovax, or if they haven’t had their whooping cough booster and they’re in a demographic where they should, such as being a new grandparent, we will refer.
“Community pharmacy is very mindful about not fragmenting care. We talk to all our vaccination customers about the importance of vaccination, if they’ve had their Hep B vaccine, and if there are any children in their family we talk about the importance of the childhood vaccination schedule.
“This will all increase uptake of vaccination and importantly, improve herd immunity.”