South Australian pharmacists may be authorised to provide influenza vaccinations to children as young as 10
The Marshall Government says it is considering regulation changes to allow accredited pharmacists to administer the vaccines to more children.
In South Australia, the current regulations require a child to be at least 16 years old to receive their influenza vaccination from a pharmacist.
Minister for Health and Wellbeing Stephen Wade said the changes would make it easier for parents to get their children vaccinated and help build up herd immunity among the South Australian community ahead of the next flu season.
“We have just experienced a particularly bad flu season and it is important we are proactive in preventing the disease by ensuring as many people are vaccinated as possible,” Minister Wade said.
“Organising to get to the GP for a flu vaccine, especially for parents with children aged between 10 and 16, can often be a difficult exercise.
“That is why we are looking at giving parents more opportunities to get their children vaccinated so more South Australians are protected against the potentially fatal disease.”
Minister Wade said the changes would have a particular benefit to regional areas where access to general practitioners is more limited.
The proposal will be reviewed by clinicians at the next meeting of the Vaccine Preventable Diseases Advisory Group of South Australia and will only apply to self-funded vaccinations and not those provided under the National Immunisation Program.
The interim Chief Pharmacist, Naomi Burgess, said the changes would place South Australia as one of the few states to extend the pharmacy flu vaccination to young people.
“The changes will mean South Australians will have better access to vaccinations and less chances of catching a deadly disease.”
The South Australian branch of the Pharmacy Guild said that it fully supports the proposal, and that such a move, if adopted, would bring Australia a step closer to national harmonisation of flu vaccination delivery through community pharmacies, and bring the state into line with Western Australia, Tasmania and Victoria.
The Guild says there is a “very strong case” for children aged as young as 10 to have their flu jab in a community pharmacy.
South Australian Branch President of the Pharmacy Guild, Nick Panayiaris, congratulated the State Government for proposing the change.
“This will be a welcome advance in public health – lowering the minimum age of pharmacist-administered flu vaccinations will undoubtedly improve access and save more lives,” Mr Panayiaris said.
Mr Panayiaris said pharmacist immunisers will be able to implement this change without any difficulty because they already receive the same training as other immunisers.
“Clearly pharmacists are part of the solution and giving pharmacists the ability to practise at their full scope, applying their training and expertise will bring great benefits to our health system.”
This flu season, SA Health distributed over 630,000 doses of funded influenza vaccine but 106 South Australians lost their lives to the disease.
“Last year, trained Queensland community pharmacists administered over 200,000 flu vaccinations, helping to build “community immunity” against the flu through vaccination.
In Queensland, Pharmacy Guild of Australia Queensland President Professor Trent Twomey has urged that state’s government to make a similar move.
“Last year, trained Queensland community pharmacists administered over 200,000 flu vaccinations, helping to build ‘community immunity’ against the flu through vaccination,” he said.
“However Queensland is falling behind other states in terms of access for vaccinations. I call on the Queensland Government to provide community pharmacist’s access to the NIP and lower the age of pharmacist vaccination to 10, in line with other jurisdictions, including a recent announcement in South Australia.”