NIP vaccines on the way in WA

Community pharmacies in Western Australia are set to receive additional flu vaccines on the NIP for over-65s

The Pharmacist Influenza Vaccination Trial has already seen pharmacists make a significant contribution to the fight against influenza, the Pharmacy Guild said today.

The trial has seen WA Health and the Pharmacy Guild’s WA branch partner in a two-year statewide trial involving the administration of National Immunisation Program flu vaccines in community pharmacies, including the high-strength vaccine for those aged 65 and over.

The Guild says that increasing access for these seniors through including pharmacies in the NIP has been an “overwhelming public health success”.

The program has improved access for thousands of West Australians, particularly those who live without GP services or in rural remote areas in single pharmacy towns, it says.

Following the severe 2017 flu season and with high publicity around the need for vaccination, the uptake of vaccination administered by pharmacists in WA has been rapid and broad since the campaign got underway in early May, it says.

However with a sharp increase in the number of people being vaccinated, supply of the vaccines has struggled to meet demand given the increase in awareness.

The Guild has now been advised that additional quadrivalent vaccine on the NIP for 65+ patients is on its way.

To date there have been around 1200 laboratory confirmed cases of flu in WA in 2018, compared with 6000 cases in the full year of 2017.

The Guild says the state is “on track” to have fewer people affected by flu this year but warned against complacency and urged consumers who have not been vaccinated to do so.

“We will continue to provide immunisation services for adults 18+ as long as stock is available, and we look forward to adding to the estimated 85,000 flu vaccinations pharmacists administered last year,” said acting president of the Guild’s WA branch, Andrew Ngeow.

“We look forward to working with the Government to increase access and improve the immunity profile of all Western Australians,” Mr Ngeow said.

Stakeholders have repeatedly called for pharmacist access to the NIP this year, including a call from PSA NSW president Peter Carroll and Guild NSW president David Heffernan last week; and a column in AJP last month by Guild Victorian president Anthony Tassone.

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