Flu season is coming up fast.
Last year’s severe flu season saw more than 230,000 confirmed cases of the disease, with a higher-than-normal mortality rate attributed to the disease.
But thanks to a recent legislative change allowing pharmacists across Australia to administer flu vaccinations in community pharmacies, hundreds of lives will be saved.
Katherine Pharmacy pharmacist Jaimee Anderson said her ability to administer vaccinations takes the pressure off clinics and adds another layer of accessibility.
Almost two-in-three Australians believe pharmacists should be able to administer common vaccinations that are currently only administered by doctors, according to new research released by the Pharmaceutical Society of Australia.
“There is no difference between how a doctor gives vaccinations and how we give vaccinations,” Ms Anderson said.
“It would take the pressure off clinics and from what we have seen it improves uptake off flu vaccinations by people who wouldn’t usually go to the clinic,” she said.
The availability of vaccination by pharmacists in rural areas will greatly assist the community’s access to protection against the fluNational President of the Pharmacy Guild, George Tambassis
More than 150 people accessed a flu vaccination this year at the Katherine Pharmacy, Ms Anderson said.
“There was a really good uptake when we first started administering the vaccinations, and it would have continued, but due to the national shortage we were not able to give them out anymore,” she said.
Last year was the first year that pharmacists across Australia were able to administer flu vaccinations in pharmacies.
National President of the Pharmacy Guild, George Tambassis, said the service had been warmly accepted by the public.
“A survey of patients earlier in the year showed more than seven million Australians aged 18 to 64 years planned to have a flu shot last year,” Mr Tambassis said.
“This research also showed that more than six million Australians were more likely to have a flu shot if it could be administered at a local pharmacy, including two million who previously had no intention to vaccinate against the flu.
“That meant that potentially two million people who without the accessibility of vaccinations being given by their community pharmacy would have been openly vulnerable to the disease.”
Mr Tambassis said people in rural and remote areas would benefit greatly from increased access at pharmacies.
“The availability of vaccination by pharmacists in rural areas will greatly assist the community’s access to protection against the flu,” he said.
“Previously this access may have been very limited because of absence of doctors or medical services.”
The flu is a virus which affects the respiratory tract and is usually worse in the winter months. The main symptoms are tiredness, fever, chills, headache, cough, sneezing and runny nose, and muscle aches.
It is recommended that everyone over the age of six months should be vaccinated against the flu, Mr Tambassis said.
“One of the great benefits of being able to get your vaccination in your pharmacy is that we have found it results in a large number of people getting immunised for the first time.
“In the past they have not had the time to go through the whole process but now just walking into their pharmacy makes it easy so they are protected against the virus for the first time,” he said.