Give us the NIP

David Heffernan. Image: Twitter
David Heffernan. Image: Twitter

Another leading pharmacist has called for wider availability of NIP flu vaccines from pharmacies

David Heffernan, president of the Pharmacy Guild’s NSW Branch, spoke out in local media over the weekend to urge the NSW Government to align itself with other jurisdictions when it comes to National Immunisation Program flu vaccines from pharmacists.

Speaking to the St George and Sutherland Shire Leader, he said that the number of influenza vaccines being administered by accredited pharmacists was now “remarkable”.

“Especially given this is just the fourth year it has been available in every state and territory,” he said.

“But, NSW needs to catch up with Victoria, Western Australia and the ACT to empower pharmacists to administer vaccines through the taxpayer subsidised National Immunisation Program.”

He said that “under the taxpayer-subsidised NIP, people in NSW should get the same choice as those in other states”.

The Leader cited NSW Health data which showed a record 2.71 million doses of flu vaccine had been distributed throughout the state since the end of March.

This constitutes one million more doses than were distributed during the same period in 2019.

Mr Heffernan later told the AJP that “pharmacists all over the country should have access to the over-65s vaccine”.

“It doesn’t make sense that the Government would not want that, going forward,” he said. “It seems bizarre that it is unavailable to pharmacy, who are not on the NIP program.

“Also, in the interest of public safety for pandemic security in the future, we ought to be on it – whether pandemic-ready means it’s COVID, influenza or something else.

“Pharmacy across all jurisdictions has universal ability to be on the NIP.”

According to Immunisation Coalition data, there has been a total of 20,475 laboratory confirmed notifications of influenza in Australia for 2020, as at the start of 25 May.

Of these, 7,023 were in NSW.

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1 Comment

  1. Michael Ortiz

    Welcome to NSW the State of Indecision!!

    It makes sense to have easily accessible community pharmacists provide NIP vaccinations at no charge to eligible patients. Not only should Pharmacists receive NIP stock at no charge, but they should also be able to bulk bill the MBS to administer the vaccine (same MBS code used by GPs and Nurses). Unfortunately this will require the Pharmacy Guild to make an MSAC submission for the MBS Code.

    Don’t hold your breath waiting for this to happen.!! NSW trails the rest of the country with innovations in Pharmacy Practice, particularly if it requires approval by NSW Health.

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