Pharmacist vaccination: where we are now


PSA Victorian Branch President Ben Marchant administers the first vaccination by a pharmacist to new grandma Kathleen Philip in Melbourne today watched on by Victorian Health Minister Jill Hennessy MP.
PSA Victorian Branch President Ben Marchant administers the first vaccination by a pharmacist to new grandma Kathleen Philip in Melbourne, watched on by Victorian Health Minister Jill Hennessy MP.

Thousands of pharmacists are now accredited to deliver jabs across the country

This week the PSA announced it has clocked over 2,350 pharmacists in Australia who have completed its Immunisation Training Program since 2014, according to its latest figures.

These accredited pharmacists have been providing a “major boost” to public health since legislative changes were made across Australia allowing pharmacists to deliver immunisation services, says the group.

PSA vaccination spokesperson Professor Lisa Nissen says the organisation has been a leader in advocating for pharmacist-delivered immunisations, following the success of a major trial in Queensland that led to other jurisdictions across Australia adopting the practice.

“Pharmacists play a vital role in promoting immunisation and reducing the impact of vaccine-preventable disease in the community, especially to vaccinate cohorts of the community who previously would not have been vaccinated,” says Professor Nissen.

Studies have shown a wide range of Australians who would otherwise not be vaccinated against influenza would do so if it is offered by accredited pharmacists.

And in 2016, around 20% of patients who qualified for a free vaccination from their GP under the National Immunisation Program chose to pay and have it done in a pharmacy.

Pharmacies are an ideal location to provide immunisation services due to their accessibility, community pharmacist Karalyn Huxhagen has told the AJP.

“Providing immunisation services in rural and remote Australia and in communities without regular GP or nursing services is a vital part of the community pharmacists role,” she says.

In addition, “the pharmacist being able to provide vaccinations when the consumers come to town from long distances away is opportunistic and desirable for the people who live in the more rural and remote communities.”

Reasons cited for attending a pharmacist for vaccination include convenience, no need to make a GP appointment and the concern of being infected by sitting in the GP waiting room with sick people, says Professor Peter Carroll from the University of Sydney.

“It offers another way to get to a range of people who in many cases would not otherwise be getting vaccinated,” he says.

The Pharmacy Guild of Australia also offers a vaccination administration course centred around influenza vaccine administration.

It is through this course that recently registered intern pharmacists from the University of Sydney’s Master of Pharmacy degree program have been ready to vaccinate for influenza at the beginning of their intern year.

Through the course, the addition of influenza vaccination training will significantly increase interns’ scope of practice, says Professor Iqbal Ramzan, Dean of the Faculty of Pharmacy at the University of Sydney.

“The Faculty is pleased to be working with the Pharmacy Guild to provide our students with this opportunity,” he has said of the partnership.

“The ability to administer the influenza vaccine will allow them to make a significant contribution to public health in Australia from the start of their career.”

However pharmacist vaccination is now expanding further than influenza across the country.

Pharmacists can now vaccinate for influenza and whooping cough in Victoria – while those based in Queensland and the Northern Territory can also vaccinate for whooping cough, measles, mumps, rubella, diphtheria and tetanus.

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