Avoid ‘cheap’ pharmacy vaccination, high-risk patients told

latrobe pharmacy students practicing immunisation
Latrobe pharmacy students get vaccination training

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.

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  1. Ron Batagol

    The wording of the original article have now been, thankfully, modified, to remove confusion and
    any suggestions that pharmacies may be using outdated or outmoded vaccines.

    When you edit out any implied adverse implications, intended or otherwise, against pharmacists, and drill down to what is now, finally, the real message in the MJA Insight article, now corrected, it seems to me to be reinforcing that, whomever is the vaccinator, needs to be alert to the fact that:

    The quadrivalent 2017 Influenza Vaccine, containing the new Michigan strain, is now available, and
    is suitable for adults, according to Professor Booy.

    Adults over 65 years, those with chronic medical conditions, pregnant women, and Indigenous
    patients, may choose to wait to receive the vaccine free of charge from their G.P, [via the National Immunisation
    Program] some time in April,”

    I would also add the important reminder that Information regarding those brands and types of Influenza vaccine which are suitable for young children, is available in
    the “The Australian Immunisation Handbook” 10th. Edition, section Section 4.7 “Influenza” at:


    bearing in mind that children under 5 years old are also eligible for free vaccine from the G.P. under the National Immunisation Program in April.
    Ron Batagol,
    Pharmacist and Obstetric Medicines Information Consultant

  2. Andrew

    Regarding the timing: The Australian Immunisation Handbook says (quote)
    Timing of influenza vaccination
    Providers can begin offering influenza vaccination from the time the vaccine becomes available, the exact timing of which can vary from year to year. Protection may decrease over time and timing of vaccination should aim at achieving the highest level of protection during the period of influenza virus circulation (usually peaking around August). Providers should continue to offer vaccination throughout the influenza season. In particular, pregnant women and travellers can benefit from vaccination at any time of the year. Children receiving their first lifetime dose should be vaccinated as soon as possible after vaccine becomes available to ensure sufficient time is available to receive a second dose (recommended ≥4 weeks later) prior to influenza season commencing.

    So a March vaccination is fine; it will still be working in August (peak season).

  3. (Mary) Kay Dunkley

    Regarding the timing. I have seen some GPs give a second dose in the second half of the year to boost long term protection until the next year’s dose.

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