Vaccination expanded for Canberra pharmacists

Pharmacist administers a vaccine. Source: PSA.
Pharmacist administers a vaccine. Source: PSA.

Canberrans may now receive the whooping cough vaccine from their local pharmacist without a prescription

Under new changes to the ACT vaccination standards, pharmacists can now be trained to administer the diphtheria, tetanus, a-cellular pertussis (dTpa) vaccine to adults without a prescription.

The changes further highlight the importance of ACT pharmacists in providing essential community health services for Canberrans, says ACT Minister for Health and Wellbeing, Meegan Fitzharris.

“I’m pleased to see their contribution to Canberrans’ health grow by helping to protect [them] against vaccine-preventable illnesses, such as whooping cough,” says Minister Fitzharris.

“Whooping cough is a highly contagious respiratory illness that poses a serious risk to young children and immune-compromised people.

“The amendments will see the ACT join Victoria, Queensland and the Northern Territory in enabling pharmacists to vaccinate people against whooping cough and influenza as public health initiatives.”

PSA has applauded the government’s decision to expand pharmacist-delivered vaccinations as a “positive step forward”.

“This positive healthcare outcome has occurred thanks to the support of the Health Protection Service working closely with the PSA ACT Branch and the Pharmacy Guild of Australia ACT branch,” says PSA ACT president Patrick Reid.

“We are also delighted that the PSA’s input into the amended ACT Pharmacist Vaccination Standards, as part of this policy change, was welcomed and accepted with the ACT Health Minister Meegan Fitzharris approving the expansion of scope of practice for pharmacists in Canberra.”

Samantha Kourtis, ‎Managing Pharmacist at Capital Chemist Charnwood, ACT, agrees that the decision is a positive one for pharmacists across the state.

“I remember having a conversation with Meegan Fitzharris about this, maybe a year ago, so I am delighted that politicians have listened to pharmacists, who have identified the need in our community for increased access to vaccinations,” says Ms Kourtis.

“What we know, having seen the influenza program roll out across the country, is that pharmacist vaccination increases the number of people being vaccinated that wouldn’t have been vaccinated otherwise.

“Herd immunity is increased and so we’re protecting not only our healthy people, but also our most vulnerable people by improving access to these vaccines.

“Pharmacists have proven, through the influenza program, that they are safe and effective providers of immunisations for Australians.”

Before providing any vaccination services, ACT pharmacists must comply with additional training, administration and record-keeping requirements as set out by the Chief Health Officer.

They are currently not permitted to provide vaccinations to people aged less than 18 years or pregnant women.

Pharmacist vaccination services have continued to expand across the country in the past year.

Just last month, 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.

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