Call to expand vaccinations in WA

vaccine vaccination needle

Most consumers in Western Australia would like their community pharmacists to vaccinate for more conditions, say researchers

Consumers in Western Australia are satisfied with pharmacist-administered flu vaccination, and many would like vaccinations to expand to other conditions as well, according to new research.

If the state expanded vaccinations for pharmacists beyond influenza, it would be following in the footsteps of Victoria, Northern Territory, Queensland, South Australia and most recently New South Wales.

Pharmacists in WA have been able to vaccinate for the flu since 2016.

In the same year, researchers from the School of Pharmacy and Biomedical Sciences at Curtin University surveyed consumers who had received a flu shot in a WA pharmacy.

They have recently published their results in the International Journal of Clinical Pharmacy.

Thirteen pharmacies were invited to participate in the 2016 study. These were located across inner city, suburban and rural areas—three were independent and 10 were banner group pharmacies.

A total of 434 questionnaires were completed by consumers who had a received a pharmacist-administered vaccination from one of the 13 pharmacies.

The majority of consumers (99.5%) were satisfied with the service overall, and 97.2% advised they would receive a vaccination from a community pharmacist in the future.

Approximately one-fifth of consumers stated they would not have received the influenza vaccine in 2016 if the pharmacist service was not available (21.4%).

Nearly all (91.9%) respondents said ‘convenient location’ was the main reason for choosing to have flu vaccination in the pharmacy.

Just over 60% said they would like pharmacist-administered vaccinations to expand to other conditions.

Of the consumers surveyed:

  • 45.6% reported they would like to see community pharmacists administer vaccines for hepatitis A and B
  • 44.9% for diptheria-tetanus-pertussis (dTpa)
  • 43.1% for measles-mumps-rubella-varicella (MMR)

Women and those who would again have their flu vaccine from the pharmacist were particularly supportive of this expansion.

“Community pharmacies in Australia are convenient healthcare services hub that can offer a variety of services” including vaccinations, say researchers Sarah Burt, Laetitia Hattingh and Petra Czarniak from Curtin University.

The results show that expanding the role of pharmacists to vaccinations other than influenza is supported by pharmacy customers, and could have a potentially positive public health impact in improving immunisation rates.

“There is scope to evaluate expanding community pharmacy vaccination services to boost vaccination rates in children,” they say.

Latest data shows that 93.5% of Australian 5 year olds were fully immunised in 2016–17, however some regions in Australia have childhood vaccination rates significantly lower than the 95% target.

“As the current rates are still below this, easy access to pharmacist-administered immunisations may improve national figures.”

However general practitioners have not been happy with expansion of pharmacist-administered vaccinations in other states.

For example, in late October the NSW Government announced that it would expand pharmacist vaccination to include dTpa and MMR vaccines, in addition to flu shots.

NSW Australian Medical Association (AMA) president Dr Kean-Seng Lim said the move would lead to further fragmentation of health care.

“A needle is more than a needle … it should be part of a comprehensive checkup,” Dr Lim said.

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