Queensland is set to allow pharmacists to administer travel vaccines, but one stakeholder says it’s not enough
Queensland Health has announced that trained pharmacists in the state will be able to administer cholera, diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis (dTpa); diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis and poliomyelitis (dTpa-IPV); Haemophilus influenza type B; hepatitis A; meningococcal ACWY; poliomyelitis; and measles, mumps, rubella (MMR) vaccines to people aged 16 years and above.
In addition, trained pharmacists (and trainee pharmacists under the direction and personal supervision of an authorised pharmacist) will be able to administer the influenza vaccination, and adrenaline, to people aged 10 years and above.
The Pharmacy Guild “cautiously” welcomed the announcement, but said that more needs to be done.
Guild Queensland branch president Trent Twomey said that the change will help build herd immunity, but access to a more comprehensive package of measures is needed to see a “drastic” improvement.
“A comprehensive travel medicines program needs to include, all travel vaccinations to 10 years of age, relevant antibiotics and antimalarials and other agents for conditions such as altitude illness, venous thromboembolism and jet lag,” he said.
“Our strategic advocacy has got us to this point, but there is more work to be done. We’ll continue to work with Minister Miles to ensure that a comprehensive travel medicines and vaccinations program is rolled out across Queensland.
“2019 was the worst flu season in Queensland in almost two decades with an average of five people per week dying due to the disease.
“With the spread of the Coronavirus, it is expected Australia’s flu season will be even more significant in 2020. In addition, we’re seeing a rise in measles and other diseases in Queenslanders who have travelled overseas.
“Last year, trained Queensland community pharmacists administered over 200,000 flu vaccinations and over two million nationally, helping to build community immunity against the flu.
“Pharmacists are highly trained, trusted and easily accessible health professionals. Thanks to this sensible decision by the Government, we look forward to offering even more protection for Queenslanders,” he said.
PSA Queensland President Chris Campbell also welcomed the announcement, in particular the move to lower the minimum vaccination age from 16 years to 10 years for influenza vaccinations.
“This is particularly important given Queensland had a record breaking flu season in 2019 with more than 68,000 cases,” Mr Campbell said. “Most Australians visit their pharmacist around 14 times a year.
“This high level of accessibility, combined with the trust consumers have in the profession, will encourage more people to get immunised.”
Mr Campbell commended the government’s decision to allow pharmacists to protect more Queenslanders from influenza and other vaccine-preventable diseases.
“Less than 40% of at-risk adults are considered to be fully vaccinated, and allowing trained pharmacists to administer more vaccines and to a wider cohort will significantly increase immunisation rates within the community,” he said.
“The administration of vaccines by pharmacists complements the excellent work done by GPs, nurses, Indigenous Health Workers and other immunisers. It increases immunisation rates and has a positive effect on the health of Queenslanders.
“As the peak national body for pharmacists, PSA has advocated for many years, including most recently in PSA’s Queensland pre-budget submission, to allow pharmacists to deliver more vaccinations to a wider age range of patients and for provision of pharmacist access to NIP stock. We will continue to work closely with the Queensland Government to achieve this.”