Doctors get together to battle pharmacy vaccination


doctor wearing boxing glove

A group of primary care organisations have banded together to discourage pharmacy vaccination.

The group, comprising the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP), the Australian Medical Association (AMA), the Australian General Practice Network (AGPN), General Practice Registrars Australia (GPRA), General Practice Supervisors Australia (GPSA), the Australian College of Rural and Remote Medicine (ACRRM), and the Rural Doctors Association of Australia (RDAA), say they are “taking a stand” following the expansion of pharmacy services in recent years to include vaccination.

They say general practice settings provide the safest and most appropriate location for vaccines to be administered, not pharmacies – which they say “pose serious risks to patients” as well as hidden health system costs.

The group, United General Practice Australia, says that while integrating clinical pharmacists into the primary healthcare multidisciplinary team has merit, pharmacies (retail outlets) are not the appropriate setting for the administration of vaccines.

“Pharmacists are not trained to deal with the complexities that come with vaccination programs including appropriate counselling prior to administration and the management of potential adverse reactions including anaphylaxis,” they say.

“Unlike pharmacy settings, general practices are able to provide a safe, private and comfortable setting to discuss confidential patient details prior to administering a vaccine.”

The group says that GPs also have access to critical information including patients’ medical history and are trained to deal with adverse reactions, which may not present immediately.

“There is no evidence that delivering vaccinations via pharmacists will improve efficiency,” UGPA says.

“If anything, direct pharmacist involvement will have the opposite effect because of reduced presentations to the most efficient and effective component of primary health care.

“The impact of patients presenting to pharmacies instead of general practice will result in fragmentation of care, missed opportunities for preventative health, reduced patient safety, increased risk, and more health waste.

“Patients who are vaccinated at a pharmacy will face gaps in their medical history and may miss opportunities for important health interventions because pharmacists cannot update medical records and are not trained to diagnose or manage care.”

The group says general practice must remain at the centre of any vaccination program because it is the most appropriate hub for providing coordinated, quality medical care.

It says that instead of administering vaccines, pharmacists should encourage people to see their GP instead to receive immunisation and other preventive health care.

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