Avoid pharmacy vaccinations, AMA president advises businesses and those eligible for free vaccination
AMA president Dr Michael Gannon has restated the organisation’s concerns with vaccinations being offered before mid-late April, while advising many groups to avoid pharmacy altogether for this service.
He encouraged employers to offer their staff vaccinations in “safe conditions” by a nurse or a doctor.
Speaking to Sky News yesterday, Dr Gannon would not be drawn on whether his criticisms of March flu vaccinations were “pointing the finger at pharmacies, for example, which are starting to advertise flu shots now”, as questioned by reporter Ashleigh Gillon.
He responded by saying: “We would just ask pharmacists to go for the optimum time [to do vaccinations].
“That’s not necessarily when you’ve got someone in your shop, but probably in three or four weeks time when it’s likely to have the greatest effectiveness”.
He had previously questioned the professionalism of pharmacists relative to GP’s, and had criticised pharmacy’s fee for service model of offering vaccination.
In his latest comments he called for all those eligible for free vaccinations to take that offer.
“I understand why private businesses, pharmacies would want to get people in, and to advertise it early,” he said.
“I think rather than criticise pharmacists for doing that I would want to project an overwhelmingly positive message that the most important thing is that people entitled to it do avail themselves of a free vaccine.”
In addition, Dr Gannon called on employers to look after their workforce’s vaccination requirements.
“If that means being vaccinated in safe conditions by a nurse or a doctor in the office space, that’s good,” he said.
Among those eligible for free vaccination are Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders, some children, pregnant women, people with chronic disease and elderly people, Dr Gannon said.
A spokesperson for the Pharmacy Guild of Australia said: “The Pharmacy Guild supports the calls from the Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (ATAGI) to get as many people vaccinated as possible and community pharmacies play a pivotal role in achieving this result.
“The standard vaccine is now available and recommended for those under the age of 65. Under the ATAGI clinical advice guidelines it is optimal for three to four months. Having a flu shot now can cover a person at the start of the season.
“The new formulation vaccine for over 65s is available only through the National Immunisation Program (NIP) which comes into effect on 1 April. The ATAGI advice says the current vaccines are appropriate for over 65s, however the new vaccines are preferable”.