Pharmacy jabs on the nose with RACGP

Dr Harry Nespolon.
Dr Harry Nespolon.

RACGP national president Dr Harry Nespolon has again made a jibe about perfume and pharmacy, after the Guild encouraged Australians to be vaccinated against the flu

On Thursday, the Pharmacy Guild reminded Australians that influenza is a serious illness, warning that nearly 10% of those hospitalised with the disease are admitted to intensive care.

The Guild encouraged people to get the vaccine, pointing out the “convenience, cost and the minimal time required to schedule an appointment” in pharmacy.

The RACGP issued a statement saying that Australians need to be aware that the timing of the flu vaccination is “critical” to getting the most protection when the flu season begins.

Dr Nespolon said that there was no need for patients to rush for the vaccine as soon as it becomes available.

“Typically, flu season affects Australia from June to September, with the peak being August,” Dr Nespolon said.

“Recent evidence suggests that protection following flu vaccination may begin to wear off after three to four months, so timing of vaccination is critical to make sure you are not unprotected at the end of the season.

“Holding off from vaccination until mid-April would actually be more beneficial for most patients, as opposed to rushing out to get their vaccination as soon as possible.

Dr Nespolon said specialist GPs are best placed to advise Australian patients on timing of vaccination.

He also said he was concerned that “some influenza vaccine providers” are already advising people to receive a flu vaccination.

“Urging people to receive their flu vaccination too early in the year may not actually cover them for the flu season, and put them at risk.

“We do not want to see patients who are doing the right thing in receiving a flu vaccination, getting the wrong advice and getting it too early and seeing the vaccination lose effectiveness by the time we reach the peak of the flu season.”

Dr Nespolon then appeared on 9 News Melbourne and told reporter Madeline Slattery that “You might be confronted with, ‘do you want a bottle of perfume with your flu vax,” if patients access vaccination in pharmacy.

It’s not the first time Dr Nespolon has mentioned perfume in his criticisms of pharmacy: in February, he wrote a column in newsGP titled: “Do they teach perfume dispensing in pharmacy school?”

He also told Nine that people aged over 65 do not need to pay for a vaccination against flu, as these are available from doctors – though as Ms Slattery told viewers, the vaccine for over-65 will not be available for a couple of weeks.

Anthony Tassone, Pharmacy Guild Victorian Branch president, told the AJP that the latest perfume comments were not helpful.

“These comments are not consistent with mutual respect of health professional colleagues in working as a team to deliver quality patient care,” he said.

“They’re intended to discredit and cast doubts of the capabilities of other health professions. They’re not in the interests of true patient-centred care.”

Mr Tassone reiterated comments he had made to Nine that with more than 19,000 confirmed cases of flu reported in Australia so far this year – nearly doubling the total reported this time last year, at 10,400 – the 2019 flu season has “well and truly” started.

“Whilst the absolute ideal time to get vaccinated is mid to late April, there’s also the risk that with this time coinciding with Easter this year people may not get around to being vaccinated and end up missing doing it.

“If patients are ready and willing to now that’s far more preferable than delaying vaccination and risking not having it done at all.”

There is mixed evidence of the pros and cons of vaccination in late March and early April, Mr Tassone said.

“On the one hand it is slightly earlier than the ideal but in the other hand it helps start to build the community immunity for those most vulnerable as we move more into the winter and closer to the peak season to protect our most vulnerable.

“We should be concentrating on the benefits of being vaccinated rather than arguing the toss over a couple of weeks on timing.”

He said that health professionals should not lecture patients as to how they access their care, but instead offer safe and accessible options so they can decide.

“This is true patient centred care,” Mr Tassone said.

“Pharmacists and community pharmacy have proven to be a safe, accessible and publicly accepted deliverer of vaccination. If there’s an increase in vaccination rates and moving closer to achieving ‘community immunity’ by trained health professionals in a safe environment and manner then that can only be positive.”

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  1. Alexander Wong

    Getting the jab is better than not getting it at all

  2. matthew

    Who is this clown? he even looks like a douche

  3. Nicholas Logan

    So sad that RACGP has joined the AMA with low grade turf wars at the expense of public health. Unfortunately it seems to have become their mission rather than assisting their great profession to thrive. I have spoken to more than one state rep for the AMA who speak enthusiastically about the potential for improved herd immunity with pharmacy vaccination but then admit they can’t say that with their AMA hat on. I would personally quit my job in shame before having to perform snide and disingenuous sabotage of a profession with whom I have such a positive relationship at the coal face.

  4. Leah Rosevear

    Do they teach respect for other professions in medical school?
    Do you think employee pharmacists care about selling perfumes?
    Do you know that pharmacists study much more pharmacology and kinetics, interactions etc in their course that in medicine?
    Do you have any idea how many errors made by GP’s I see and have to act on daily?
    I am so tired of the disrespect shown to pharmacists.

  5. Wilson Tan

    Maybe Dr Harry Nespolon should really be looking at his own profession.

    Physician heal thyself.

    One doctor got his receptionist to try to get me to sign a medicare rebate claim for just picking up a prescription (his Rx printer jammed and I had to come back to get the script).
    I refused on principle and I was not to return every again to this clinic. So I requested all my medical histories and my family.
    Guess what, they wanted a lot of money for each history!

    My patient complained he had to sign a medicare rebate claim to get a certification. Is this clinical?

    Another patient in Benalla (medical clinics don’t take new patients, so you are stuck with the clinic) went to collect his prescription he forgot, he was asked to sign the medicare form & pay an out of pocket of $70.

    Money before Health.

    • Jarrod McMaugh

      I think part of the problem we have in communication between the two professions is that – as much as anecdotes like this are bad practice – they don’t represent the norm for the profession.

      This goes both ways, including the concept that a pharmacist providing a vaccine wouldn’t try to upsell a bottle of perfume.

      I’ve got lots of anecdotes about poor practice – from every type of health care professional (including our own). I try as much as I can not to use them, because they aren’t representative. They shouldn’t be used by either side.

      • Willy the chemist

        Me, I’m just a lowly community pharmacist.
        Dr Harry Nespolon, Dr Ackermann, Dr Tony Bartone, they are all heads of representative organisations who have not shown another health professional courtesy and due respect.

        So please save the high horse. I’m sick and tired of these neurotic self-indulgent individuals whose only common redeeming feature is a lack of empathy slander & insult my profession.

        These individuals are elected by their members and what they say represent them. Otherwise it is the responsibility of all doctors to stop their elected officials from insulting others, often without basis or justification.

  6. Wilson Tan

    Many medical centres are run like a big business nowadays.
    If you go pick up a report, it’s swipe the medicare card.
    If you pick up a repeat, it’s swipe.
    God forbid you forgot the script, pick up from the receptionist, it’s swipe.
    Certification, please swipe.
    Next please. Next please.
    Run like a big business.
    More like a corporation.
    5 minute medicine – turnstile operations.

    A practice that RACGP is encouraging. Big, fast, quick smart.

  7. Bruce ANNABEL

    Vaccination services by pharmacy is reasonable common place in many overseas jurisdictions such as USA. Pharmacies are readily accessible and the huge number of health consumers utilizing the service is testament to the benefits and likely has increased the % of people vaccinated. Great for public health. However I do despair at the number of pharmacies and banners particularly who are unnecessarily discounting the service. The cost of the vaccine plus pharmacist cost (base plus on-costs) amounts to circa $14.50 depending on the pharmacist pay rate. Therefore charging a fee close to or less than this amount reduces the value of the service. Health consumers already see the value so why discount it just because someone else does?

    • Paul Sapardanis

      The use of ALL our professional services and payments of them as marketing to get you in store so you hope to buy higher non essential items is stopping us from taking the necessary steps of being a true health destination. eg some groups are using fluvax vaccination as a way of ghetting the patient to purchase higher margain natural therapy at the time of vaccination. How sad it is

  8. Andrew Kelly

    My wife is a nurse, and has a role with corporate vaccination providers. Been busy for a week or two with flu vaccination bookings already. No doctor or pharmacist is ever involved with the process, online booking and consent forms, no documentation provided to patient to alert doctor they have been vaccinated nor a requirement for her to pass this information on. Has been doing this for about 10 years. If fragmentation of care is the concern of the AMA or RACGP, what is their response to these types of operations?

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