A Perth father has told mainstream media outlets that he has suffered severe health consequences from a pharmacist flu vaccination in his back – days after the release of a review suggesting pharmacists could do more vaccinations
Amid controversy this week over pharmacists’ scope of practice in WA, 34-year-old Michael McGrady has appeared in Perth media claiming that he was injured by a pharmacist.
He told Radio 882 6PR’s Gary Adshead that concerned for the wellbeing of his four-month-old son, particularly given the severe 2019 flu season, he “literally just went for the most convenient way to go get my flu vaccine”.
“So I just popped around the corner from work in my lunch break, went to get the needle, sat down… in the waiting room waiting for the pharmacist to come out,” said Mr McGrady, who is listed on Facebook as a Director at Modern Media Marketing Solutions.
“When he did come out… he was sort of reading off a piece of paper, didn’t really seem like he knew what he was doing,” he told Mr Adshead.
“He turned around and said, ‘I’ll be putting this into your rear deltoid’ and then popped it straight in… like in my back near next to my shoulder, which I was just a really unusual place for the needle.
“When he did put it in there, I thought to myself, ‘that was a bit strange but he’s a professional, he knows what he’s doing’.”
The pharmacist has denied that he injected the man in his back.
However the patient told Mr Adshead that at 2am the next morning he began having convulsions.
“From that point I led down to having constant migraines, metallic taste in my mouth, I was unable to move my neck, my shoulders, lift anything, couldn’t lift my son, constant vertigo – the vertigo’s actually something that’s still hanging around with me right now, and it’s something that my GP’s turned around and said that it could last years,” the media and marketing professional told 6PR.
“There’s no answer on when that vertigo will actually go away.
“I found out that when the pharmacist put the needle in he actually caused nerve damage.”
Mr McGrady said that he had been left in “excruciating” pain from the moment the pharmacist injected him, and that he is now taking strong painkillers.
“I wish I’d just alleviated the convenience and just gone to the GP to get it done,” he said.
“If pharmacists need to be doing this, then they need to be better trained. There’s a reason that doctors go to university for the length of time that they do.
“I’m just really trying to put the word out there to say that this is not on; pharmacists shouldn’t be able to do this.
“You don’t call the plumber to come and paint your house… if these guys want to be doing the jobs of doctors – and I’m all for alleviating pressure off the health system, I know the health system’s got pressure – but let’s not try and fix the problem really quickly by robbing Peter to pay Paul, let’s actually put a long term plan in solution, and people who are studying pharmacy right now, let’s change their curriculum, or do something like that to actually give them more experience in regards to physiology of the body or in regards to diagnosis.
“Because I can only imagine the plethora of issues that’ll pop up from this if pharmacists start being able to diagnose or have more power.”
Mr McGrady’s words come days after the release of a West Australian Health Department review into the pharmacy sector, which made a number of recommendations about scope of practice, including that pharmacists could do more in the vaccination space.
On Friday, newly elected Australian Medical Association president Dr Andrew Miller had told 6PR’s Mr Adshead that pharmacists were “basically Dr Google with a shop”.
“You can’t diagnose someone’s problems standing in a shop. You need to see a doctor. That’s proper health care in a first world country,” Dr Miller said.
“If pharmacists need to expand their business they should look at other avenues.”
Mr McGrady’s wife Kelsey had also shared the couple’s claims on Facebook.
“After visiting our GP we were informed that the government have given pharmacists the ability to provide these injections but they have had no medical training on administering injections,” she wrote.
“Due to the pharmacist injecting the needle into this area he could have hit a nerve which travels to his brain which can in turn cause an infection in his brain. This is extremely dangerous,” she claimed.
“I am PRO VACs and it has nothing to do with the flu vaccine however I feel it is important to share this, as I for one will be visiting my GP for my next flu Vaccine and will never attend a pharmacy again and feel it’s really important for people to know the risks involved when people are untrained.
“Which scares me that these untrained people are allowed to do this. PLEASE make sure you go to your GP or the nurse for any vaccinations, it is not worth the pain, stress or risking your life!”
Meanwhile, the pharmacist at the centre of the vaccination controversy has issued a statement saying that vaccinations in the pharmacy are carried out according to vaccination training and with the “utmost regard” for the safety and wellbeing of patients.
“No patient in our pharmacy has ever been administered the influenza vaccine by injection into the back,” the pharmacist said.
“We are aware of a patient who has recently appeared on a television news item alleging that he was vaccinated by injection into the back.
“Without identifying or denigrating the patient in any way, we categorically assert that no patient has ever received a flu vaccination in the back at our pharmacy. Influenza vaccines are administered through injection into the upper arm, with no exceptions.
“I administered a number of vaccinations that day and all of them were administered in exactly the same manner as per our accredited training.
“The paper work referred to would have been the required patient consent form which must be checked prior to administering the vaccine.”
Pharmacy Guild WA branch director Matt Tweedie told the AJP that the Guild is backing the pharmacist all the way.
“Nothing of the sort happened,” he said. “Our pharmacist has signed a declaration to say so.
“This is an experienced pharmacist who is well trained, who has been doing vaccinations for some years. He remembers the patient, and exactly where he administered the vaccine, and he was one of a number of patients that he provided the vaccine to on that day. We believe the pharmacist.
“We [at the Guild] just note that this person [Mr McGrady] seems to have been given information that is not just a little incorrect, but totally incorrect, in terms of the training of pharmacists.
“He said he’d been advised by a GP that this could’ve been a reaction due to the vaccine being put in the back – but more importantly, this GP said that pharmacists weren’t trained. We are trained in the same way as any immuniser – a nurse, an Aboriginal health worker – with a course overseen by the Department of Health of Western Australia.
“There is absolutely no way that anyone who has completed training with us or anyone else would’ve done this, and we stand by that.”
Mr Tweedie said he was concerned that consumers might hear or view the story and be discouraged from being vaccinated against the flu.
“We earnestly hope that nobody has made a decision not to be vaccinated because of this story,” he said.
“We don’t care where you get vaccinated, as long as you do. And you can 100% rely on pharmacists to do it well and professionally.”