Health Minister Greg Hunt turned to community pharmacy, not doctors, for his flu vaccination this year
Amid a 2019 flu season which is gathering early steam, Mr Hunt took the opportunity to have his flu vaccine at Chemist Warehouse Mornington in mid-April, administered by trained pharmacist immuniser Dmytri Nikolayev.
“Clinical experts have advised that optimal protection against influenza occurs within the first three to four months following vaccination,” said Mr Hunt at the time.
“Getting vaccinated from mid-April allows protection during the peak influenza transmission period, from around June to September in most parts of Australia.
“Immunisation is critical to maintaining public health and preventing the outbreak of infectious diseases,” he said.
At the March APP conference, Mr Hunt said that pharmacist vaccination had been able to expand the number of flu vaccinations given in 2018: “so when we say that you are saving lives and protecting lives, you really are”.
As at 23 April 2019, there have been 33,041 laboratory confirmed notifications of influenza in Australia for 2019.
NSW has been most affected, with 9,344 cases, followed by Queensland, at 8,785 and South Australia, at 7,463.
There were 58,570 laboratory confirmed notifications of influenza in Australia for the entire calendar year of 2018. This had been a significant improvement on 2017, when 249,882 laboratory confirmed cases were recorded.
Mainstream media such as Channel Nine are warning of a “horror” flu season ahead in 2019.
“Based on what happened in 2017 where we had over 5,000 deaths nationally from influenza… we could see a rate of deaths around that again if we have that number of cases ,” Dr Paul Griffin from the Immunisation Coalition told Nine.
“Getting vaccinated now would help provide protection right now while we’re seeing a high level of activity, but also through the winter peak that we’re going to see as well.”
Chemist Warehouse said that it is now offering pharmacist-administered vaccination services at more outlets than ever before, with more than 230 of its 300-plus stores now offering the jab.
“The flu is highly contagious and can cause severe illness and life-threatening complications and the annual flu vaccination is the most important step in preventing influenza ahead of flu season,” said Mario Tascone, pharmacist and Director of Chemist Warehouse Retail.
“As the house of wellness, we are committed to educating Australians on the importance of being prepared and encouraging them to be vaccinated to protect not only themselves but those around them and the wider community.”