High-risk patients should wait for a free vaccine, instead of getting a “cheap” flu jab at the pharmacy, flu experts have said
In a piece in MJA InSight, head of the clinical research team at the National Centre for Immunisation Research and Surveillance and spokesperson for the Influenza Specialist Group Professor Robert Booy said that people eligible for a free vaccine should get theirs at the GP.
“For healthy people, especially healthy people who are going to be in contact with people at high risk of the flu, they should go and get a cheap vaccine at the chemist this month,” Prof Booy said.
“This will ensure healthy people are well protected by a vaccine that doesn’t cost very much, and they can do this without much fuss and bother.”
But “there are a lot of people, including people over the age of 65 years, those with chronic medical conditions, pregnant women, Indigenous adults and children under five years of age, who can receive this vaccine free of charge [via the National Immunisation Program] some time in April,” Prof Booy told MJA InSight.
“These people should get this updated vaccine the way they have before – free from their GP.”
In an earlier version of the article, it was claimed that pharmacists were currently selling 2016 vaccine stock.
“This is incorrect,” the site states. “All 2016 stock had a use-by date which prevented it being used this year, and it is likely that most leftover 2016 stock has been destroyed.”
Vaccination by pharmacists has been a major success story for the profession, with more than 2,350 pharmacists around the country having already completed PSA’s Immunisation Training Program.
Studies have shown a wide range of Australians who would otherwise not be vaccinated against influenza would do so if it is offered by accredited pharmacists.
Around 20% of patients who qualified for a free vaccination from their GP under the National Immunisation Program paid have it done in a pharmacy.