A call by doctor groups to “take a stand” against pharmacist vaccination is puzzling, says Tim Logan, Queensland Branch President of the Pharmacy Guild and leader of the Queensland Pharmacist Immunisation Pilot, as it suggests the doctors do not have a good understanding of pharmacist vaccination.
“As far as I’m aware, no GP organisation has requested a copy of the training materials that are insisted upon for pharmacists to become qualified to give these injections in the various jurisdictions,” Logan told the AJP.
“I’m not confident that any of these GP organisations have mapped the competencies that pharmacists achieve throughout their university degrees and intern training.
“They talk about the fact that giving vaccines in pharmacies isn’t appropriate because there are not private areas, when the guidelines demand a private area.
“They talk about the problem of GPs not being kept in the loop of people accessing health services… isn’t e-health on the agenda right now? Not to mention the fact that the QPIP protocol asks customers if they wish to have a letter sent to their GP, or provide one, saying what they had, when and the serial number.”
Logan queries whether the creation of a new supergroup of doctor organisations – United General Practice Australia – to battle the expansion of pharmacists into providing vaccinations is actually about the doctors losing patients, as jurisdictions around the country give the green light to pharmacist vaccinations.
“Even if it is, the research found a lot of people who enjoyed the Queensland pharmacy protocol last year said they came because they couldn’t get in to see their doctor in a timely fashion, and that if we weren’t offering the service, they wouldn’t have had it at all,” he says.
“So we’re not really causing GPs to lose money.”
Around 25% of the people vaccinated in the pilot were walk-ins.
Logan says that UGPA’s call, surprisingly, did not question existing non-GP vaccination providers.
“There seems to be a surprising lack of referral to the medical or nursing companies that provide these injections to either businesses in cities or on mine sites, who you would imagine would have similar issues of privacy, perhaps.
“They say we don’t know how to deal with adverse reactions including anaphylaxis – well, pharmacists are trained in training people to use an EpiPen.
“As part of the Queensland protocol we had to complete a course on anaphylaxis run by the Australasian Society of Clinical Immunology and Allergy; we had to do their course as well as a first aid course. You needed currency in that and first aid before you could be signed off, as well as doing the training on how to stick a needle in someone’s arm.
“One of the big things that’s in a medical practitioner’s anaphylaxis protocol is to dial 000 and call an ambulance. Well, I’ve spent a bit of time memorising that number, and I’m pretty sure I’ll be able to call it too.
“It’s just very disappointing that a group of people who you would imagine live and die by evidence-based medicines have given no appearance of having any sort of evidence to make any of their claims here.”
Logan says that given it’s possible this winter may see a severe flu season, given indications from the Northern Hemisphere, it makes sense for as many people as possible to be vaccinated.
“If the flu risk is as bad as they say, you’d wonder whether the current medical infrastructure has the capacity to deal with everyone who might need an injection,” he says.
“Why wouldn’t you want an extra group of people trained to be able to do immunisation services? If a pandemic should, God forbid, ever happen you’ve all of a sudden got a significantly greater group of people who can give people immunity against the infective agent.”