More pharmacist vaccinations for kids

anthony tassone and jenny mikakos among others at westgarth pharmacy

Victoria’s Minister for Health Jenny Mikakos took to a Northcote pharmacy on Thursday to announce expanded pharmacy vaccination

At the Westgarth Pharmacy, Ms Mikakos said that children as young as ten will now be able to get their flu shot in pharmacies.

In 2016, the Labor Government made a number of vaccinations available through pharmacies, including those protecting against whooping cough and the flu, but until now, children have had to be aged 16 or over.

Now, parents with children aged 10 to 16 will be able to visit the pharmacy for a flu shot.

The state government says that this is “great news for the 87% of all Victorians who live within 2.5 kilometres of a pharmacist”.

For many Victorians, a trip to the local pharmacy is more convenient and less costly than a trip to the GP, it says.

Latest data on pharmacy vaccination shows that 43,541 vaccinations were provided by pharmacists in Victoria in 2017/18, rising to more than 82,500 in 2018/19. The Government distributed more than two million doses of flu vaccine across the state this year.

“We know Victorian families are busy, and they don’t always have time to get to the GP for their vaccinations,” Ms Mikakos said. “This is another way we’re helping mums and dads protect their kids from the flu.

“The vast majority of Victorians live just around the corner from a pharmacy, so this will make getting vaccinated against the flu just that little bit easier.

“When it comes to vaccinations, the science is crystal clear: They’re safe, effective and they save lives. Never listen to anyone peddling lies and misinformation about vaccinations.”

The Pharmacy Guild’s Victorian branch welcomed the news, saying the announcement will help broaden public access of evidence-based vaccinations, increase the rates of vaccination and help strive towards the goal of herd immunity in the community to protect our most vulnerable from infection.

Victorian Branch President of the Pharmacy Guild, Anthony Tassone, congratulated the Labor Government for allowing pharmacists to vaccinate more Victorians – and said there were even more opportunities to best utilise the training and expertise of pharmacists for patient benefit.

“This is a welcome advance in public health—lowering the minimum age of pharmacist-administered flu vaccinations will undoubtedly improve access and save more lives,” Mr Tassone said.

“Pharmacist immunisers will be able to implement this change without any difficulty because they already receive the same training as other immunisers.

“There is more work to be done so that Victorians have the opportunity to be vaccinated against the full range of conditions that pharmacist immunisers in our state have been asked to undertake training in.”

“We look forward to working with the Minister’s office, the Department of Health and other stakeholders to ensure that the training of Victorian pharmacist immunisers across a broad spectrum of preventable diseases is fully utilised for public benefit.

“Over 13 million Australians have been vaccinated against the flu this year, with over 2 million having received their vaccination from a community pharmacy.

“Clearly pharmacists are part of the solution and giving pharmacists the ability to practise at their full scope, applying their training and expertise will bring great benefits to our health system.”

The need to be vaccinated against the flu has been highlighted by this year’s severe flu season, he said, with more 245,000 laboratory confirmed cases of influenza and over 400 deaths recorded nationally.

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