WA Government expands community pharmacy vaccination

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The RACGP questioned whether there is evidence to support the policy change, warning that the decision could have unintended consequences.

Children as young as five could soon start getting their flu shots from pharmacies in Western Australia.


Western Australia has further expanded its community pharmacy vaccination program, in what the RACGP described as a step in the wrong direction.


The decision means that from Monday, April 26, pharmacists will be able to administer government-subsidized flu shots to children aged five and over, whereas they were previously limited to private vaccinations for people aged 10 and over. more.



A declaration published by WA Health Minister Amber-Jade Sanderson also revealed that the following vaccinations were to be extended “later into 2022”, although no specific date was provided:

  • Vaccines against human papillomavirus (HPV) and diphtheria-tetanus-pertussis for people aged 11 and over (previously not available in pharmacies)
  • Meningococcal ACWY for people aged 15 and over (previously 16 and over)

Meanwhile, measles-mumps-rubella vaccines will continue to be available only to those age 16 and older, but will be subsidized for recipients over age 20.

The RACGP president’s assistant professor, Karen Price, responded to the decision by warning that the changes could have unintended consequences.

‘It is best for patients to receive their vaccinations from their usual GP,’ she said.

“Expanding the Community Pharmacy Vaccination Program in Western Australia is not a wise move and takes the state in the wrong direction on vaccination.”

Professor Price said that while pharmacists can argue that GP needs support as GPs manage patients who have delayed or avoided screenings and consultations during the pandemic, that is not a valid reason to extend the vaccination in pharmacies.

‘This [will lead] to the fragmentation of care during this critical time as pandemic life returns to normal,” she said.

‘Where’s the modeling? Is this evidence-based policy or is it the result of political lobbying? Are we providing a solution to a problem that does not exist?

“There is evidence of the benefits of integrating non-dispensing pharmacists into practices and RACGP is always keen to explore collaborative solutions; however, these changes are not something we support.

RACGP WA President Dr Ramya Raman shares Prof Price’s concerns, saying pharmacies are not as well equipped as GP surgeries to administer vaccines.

“Patients have to wait 20 minutes after being vaccinated, and in a pharmacy that often means walking through a crowded retail store because there is no consultation or separate waiting area,” he said. she declared.

“This is particularly problematic at a time when there is an increased risk of transmission of respiratory diseases, including COVID-19.

“Pharmacists may also not have the appropriate environment to respond to rare risks such as anaphylaxis.

“So if something goes wrong, it’s a real problem.”

In May 2019, Tasmania became the first state or territory in Australia to reduce the age of patients who can be vaccinated against influenza to 10 years old, from the previous limit of 18 years old.

It was followed by WA a few months later – in a move also criticized by the RACGP – before a wave of regulatory changes in 2020 subsequently reduced the threshold to 10 years in all other Australian jurisdictions.

Regardless of those rulings, Professor Price said general practices remain “the safest place” for patients to receive vaccines.

“We rely on a detailed and comprehensive patient history and, on top of that, we are well equipped with the training and facilities to respond quickly in the very rare event that a patient reacts negatively to a vaccination and needs urgent medical attention,” she said. said.

“Receiving your vaccinations at your local practice gives your GP the opportunity to check for other chronic health conditions.

‘[For example]HPV vaccinations give GPs the opportunity to discuss broader sexual health issues and conduct preventative screening activities, and childhood vaccinations allow us to screen for ‘red flags’ such as speech problems , motor and cognition and problems with social or emotional skills. ‘

AMA WA President Mark Duncan-Smith also spoke about the decision following the state government’s announcement.

“Such a change in the way vaccinations are given in Western Australia has the real potential to fragment patient care by doctors and lead to worse patient outcomes,” he said.

In a report by the WA government in 2021it was found that 50% of flu vaccines were wasted by pharmacies during the period 2018-2020, or not registered with the federal vaccination registry.

“Any potential agreement with the Pharmacy Guild on this issue represents only a small proportion of pharmacists in WA and does not demonstrate genuine consultation with affected stakeholders.”

WA Health did not respond to questions before publication about why it added pharmacies to the PIN, or whether it had any evidence or modeling to support the policy change.

Age limits for influenza vaccine administered at pharmacies by state and territory:

  • LAW: ten (since 2020)
  • New South Wales : ten (since 2020)
  • NT: ten (since 2020)
  • Qld: ten (since 2020)
  • HER : ten (since 2020)
  • Vic: ten (since 2020)
  • Tasks : ten (since 2019)
  • WASHINGTON: Five (since 2022)

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