Pharmacist flu shots better than nothing: Gannon

“Farming off” elements of healthcare to pharmacy means patients will lose out on health promotion opportunities, says outgoing AMA president Dr Michael Gannon

In an interview with Tim Shaw on 2CC, the Canberra talk radio station, said that pharmacist flu vaccination was better than nothing.

Mr Shaw said that ACT pharmacists “want to be able to administer trivalent and quadrivalent for trivalent flu shots”.

“You know, that’s the super duper for the older Australians,” he said, asking whether Dr Gannon still maintained that the GP was the best equipped health professional to give vaccines.

“Not everyone in Canberra’s got 70 or 80 bucks to go and see their local GP,” he said.

Dr Gannon said that he understood that bulk billing rates in the ACT were the lowest in the country, and that this posed a barrier to GP access.

“The truth is that bulk billing rates in Canberra are, I’m pretty sure, the lowest in Australia, and that means that it’s commonplace for people to have to see the doctor,” he said.

“I think that if what you’re saying to me is that surely it’s better for a pharmacist to give a vaccine rather than someone to not have it because they can’t afford a visit to the doctor, well then I would agree with you on that.

“But if that’s the case, then we’ve got a system that needs fixing.”

Dr Gannon again said that the AMA is concerned about “fractionalisation” of health care, citing the example of pregnant women who come in for the flu vaccine with their partners; he said he then encourages these partners to see their GP.

“The point is when you walk in and see a GP, whether it’s for a pap smear or a script that you’ve filled—not many men do that—but if you go in for a vaccine, whether it’s whooping cough, whether it’s influenza, whether it’s travel vaccines, what you do is you unleash the health promotion opportunity that comes from seeing a specialist in health prevention.”

He said that it was “pretty hard” for a patient to visit a GP and not have their blood pressure tested or have a conversation about lifestyle issues such as diet and exercise.

“If we go farming off little elements of health care to pharmacy and other health professionals, we lose out,” he said.

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