Australian community pharmacy reaches milestone

Elise Apolloni, Partner, Capital Chemist Wanniassa

2017 represents the first flu season that trained community pharmacists will be able to administer flu shots nationwide

More than seven million Australians aged 18-64 are planning to have a flu shot this year, according to the Pharmacy Guild of Australia’s 2017 Flu Vaccination Study.

And of these, more than six million reported they would be more likely to have a flu shot if it could be administered at a local pharmacy.

This includes two million who previously had no intention to vaccinate against the flu, the Guild survey shows.

“For community pharmacy to tempt an extra two million Australians into having a flu shot this year is testimony to pharmacy’s recognition as a trusted health centre,” says Guild National President George Tambassis.

Pharmacists are trusted health professionals who represent a convenient and accessible destination for flu vaccination, says Mr Tambassis.

“Given pharmacists are Australia’s second most trusted professionals for ethics and honesty, and the majority of Australians reside within 1.5km from a pharmacy, it’s no surprise pharmacists can now vaccinate, as we represent a convenient and accessible destination for flu vaccination,” he says.

“It is SO exciting for our profession that pharmacists across the country can administer vaccinations this year,” Elise Apolloni, 2017 Pharmacy of the Year finalist and partner at Capital Chemist Wanniassa, tells AJP.

“It is an incredibly intelligent public health initiative to put the skills of a pharmacist, in our consulting rooms, to use in this way. This measure will continue to show just how well trained and placed pharmacists are to contribute to the Australian healthcare system in this way.

“Pharmacists are trusted, like many health professionals, to do what’s best for our patient’s health. We all know the benefits of vaccination programs. We all know more people visit their local pharmacist than any other health professional every year. It makes sense to mobilise our workforce to maximise the ability for as many people as possible to access vaccination services for influenza.

“When the announcement was made last year that ACT pharmacists could vaccinate once appropriately trained I couldn’t sleep for three nights,” says Ms Apolloni.

“[I was] processing what an enormously positive impact this decision would have our local community and their health.”

Minister for Health Greg Hunt says the availability of vaccination by trained pharmacists across Australia greatly assists the community’s access to protection against the flu, and this is particularly important in rural areas.

“In conjunction with the government-funded National Immunisation Program (NIP) for at-risk people, extending the availability of flu vaccination through community pharmacies is a very welcome addition to our fight against this debilitating disease,” says Minister Hunt.

Two weeks ago the Federal Government confirmed that it had secured this year’s supply of new vaccines to protect against four strains of influenza virus for this season.

Supplied by GlaxoSmithKline, Sanofi and Seqirus, this year’s quadrivalent influenza vaccines will cover two A strains of influenza: Michigan and Hong Kong, and two B strains of influenza: Brisbane and Phuket, as recommended by the World Health Organization.

Generational trends for flu vaccination:

  • In 2016, flu vaccination was highest among the Baby Boomers (49%), followed by Gen Y (40%). Gen X reported the lowest flu vaccination rates (36%).
  • This year, Baby Boomers are also more likely to have a flu shot (55%) followed closely by Gen Y (49%), with Gen X again the least likely (41%).
  • Almost half (46%) of Gen X were more likely to receive their vaccination at work.
  • More Gen Ys and Baby Boomers were more likely to be vaccinated in pharmacy.
  • Gen Y is also twice as likely as their generational counterparts to have the flu shot to prevent spreading the infection to others.

Source: Pharmacy Guild of Australia 2017 Flu Vaccination Study

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