South Australian pharmacists can now offer vaccination for more infectious diseases… and doctors aren’t happy
Jack Snelling, South Australia’s health minister, announced that people aged 16 and over will now have the option to get their vaccinations for measles, mumps, rubella, whooping cough, diphtheria, tetanus and polio from their local authorised pharmacist.
This follows the successful implementation of the pharmacist-administered flu vaccination program in early 2015.
Any registered pharmacist can become authorised to administer the wider range of vaccines.
“Pharmacies have always played a significant role in the community, where people can go to for trusted health advice,” Mr Snelling said.
“By expanding the range of vaccines that pharmacists can administer, pharmacies will become even more integral to healthcare in the community.
“Allowing pharmacists to directly administer these vaccines will reduce pressure on GPs, increase the accessibility of vaccinations for the community, and go a long way towards creating a healthier South Australia.”
Pharmacy Guild SA Branch President Nick Panayiaris said that as community pharmacies are among the most accessible and trusted health care resources in the state, it makes “good sense” to maximise the public health benefits of vaccination for adults by trained pharmacists.
“The SA Pharmacy Guild is very pleased to have been able to work so constructively with the State Government to achieve this expansion of pharmacy vaccination services for South Australian health care consumers,” he said.
However the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP) has condemned the move.
RACGP SA Chair, Dr Danny Byrne, said that pharmacists are not appropriately trained to deal with the complexities that come with vaccination programs, including counselling prior to administration and the management of potentially adverse reactions including anaphylaxis.
“General practices are able to provide a safe, private and comfortable setting to discuss confidential patient details prior to the administration of a vaccine,” he said.
“GPs also have access to critical information including patients’ medical history and are trained to deal with adverse reactions, which may not present immediately.
“There is no evidence that delivering vaccinations via pharmacists is cost effective.
“If anything it will increase costs because patients presenting to pharmacies instead of general practice will result in fragmentation of care, missed opportunities for preventative health, reduced patient safety, and wasted health resources.
“Patients who are vaccinated at a pharmacy will face gaps in their medical history and may miss opportunities for important health interventions because pharmacists cannot update medical records and are not adequately trained to diagnose or manage care.”
To date, more than 300 pharmacists in South Australia have completed the required training to be authorised to administer the flu vaccine.
Earlier this year Pharmacy Guild research found that 89% of South Australian adults recognised the benefits of flu vaccination in pharmacy, saying they appreciated the accessibility, cost and convenience of the service.