More vaccines for pharmacists to fill GP gap

Pharmacist administers a vaccine. Source: PSA.
Pharmacist administers a vaccine. Source: PSA.

From January 2019, trained NSW pharmacists will be able to provide dTpa and MMR vaccines, with the age limit also being lowered to 16

The NSW government has followed in the footsteps of Victoria, Northern Territory, Queensland and South Australia by announcing expanded pharmacist vaccination beyond the flu jab.

Deputy Premier and Minister for Small Business John Barilaro and Health Minister Brad Hazzard announced today that NSW will be expanding pharmacist vaccination to include diphtheria-tetanus-pertussis (dTpa) and measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccines, as well as flu shots.

They will also be lowering the age limit for people receiving vaccines from a pharmacist to 16 years old, with all changes to come into effect from January 2019.

“People tell us access to a GP can be difficult at times whether you live in the city, country or on the coast, so expanding pharmacy vaccinations gives people more choice,”said Mr Barilaro, who announced the news at a Pharmacy Guild event.

“We know for many in the regions access to a doctor in a timely manner – and besides the cost of it all – is very, very difficult,” he said.

“People aged 18 and over can already pay to have their flu jab at pharmacies and soon people 16 and over can do the same and get other jabs too, such as measles.”

Mr Hazzard said he hopes allowing pharmacists to give MMR and dTpa jabs will also mean more people get immunised before travelling overseas.

“Australia has wiped out measles and  the only reported cases are from unvaccinated people who acquire it overseas and then infect others locally,” Mr Hazzard said.

“We hope new grandparents, carers of infants and partners of pregnant women also make use of the additional services to protect newborn babies from whooping cough.”

NSW Guild president David Heffernan said: “We congratulate Health Minister Brad Hazzard and Deputy Premier John Barilaro on this very sensible and beneficial extension of pharmacist-administered vaccination.

“All over NSW, patients will benefit from the convenience of being able to obtain these vaccination services from their trained local pharmacist. The community as a whole will benefit from better herd immunity, especially in areas where access to a General Practitioner may be limited.”

PSA NSW president Professor Peter Carroll congratulated the government for allowing pharmacists to provide more vaccines.

“Many people within the community do not regularly visit a GP, and allowing accredited pharmacists to administer dTpa and MMR vaccines will significantly increase the immunisation rate within the community, and reduce the incidence of these diseases.

“The administration of vaccines by pharmacists complements the excellent work done by GPs. It increases the immunisation rate, and has a positive effect on people’s health in NSW.”

NSW Guild president David Heffernan, Pharmacy Guild national president George Tambassis, Deputy Premier John Barilaro, PSA NSW president Peter Carroll.
NSW Guild president David Heffernan, Pharmacy Guild national president George Tambassis, Deputy Premier John Barilaro, PSA NSW president Peter Carroll at a Guild event where the announcement was made.

The move brings NSW into line with Victoria, Queensland, South Australia and the Northern Territory in terms of the range of vaccines that can be administered by pharmacists.

Earlier this month, Mr Hazzard obtained support from the COAG Health Council to develop a national approach to pharmacist vaccination standards that would make the program uniform across Australia.

Authorised pharmacists will be required to report all vaccinations given to the Australian Immunisation Register (AIR), a national register that is accessible by authorised health professionals such as GPs, nurse immunisers and authorised pharmacists, as well as by individuals for their own records and those of their children.

People who are eligible for free government-funded vaccines, including children under five, Aboriginal people, those with chronic illnesses, pregnant women and people over 65 will still need to see their GP to receive their subsidised vaccine.

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