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Guild welcomes flu vaccination decision

18 August 2011

Guild welcomes decision to allow pharmacists to give flu vaccines

The Pharmacy Guild of New Zealand has welcomed a decision by the Medical Officers of Health authorising qualified pharmacists to deliver the unsubsidised influenza vaccine to patients in Auckland, Bay of Plenty and the Waikato.

Guild Chief Executive, Annabel Young, says the decision, that took effect this week, is in line with overseas trends where there is a growing move for pharmacists to step up to alleviate the workload of GPs. In addition, the effect of the decision is to expand the pool of vaccinators available in the event of a pandemic.

"These community pharmacists have the necessary skills and contact with the public to be able to deliver flu vaccinations, thus, taking some of the workload off doctors' surgeries," Ms Young said today. "Pharmacists understand the importance of working with the patient's GP. Excellent systems will be in place to ensure that GPs know which of their patients have received the vaccination."

"Nearly one million doses of the subsidised influenza vaccine have already been distributed in New Zealand so far this year and, while the period for free vaccinations has finished, many patients have not been immunised yet. The weather this week is clear evidence that winter is not over and immunisation may still be a sensible thing to do."

She says pharmacists, as the health professional that people see most often, see many patients who have not been vaccinated and who do not qualify for the subsidised vaccine from their GP. "The patients now have a greater choice. Vaccination has just become more convenient for patients."

The provision of influenza vaccinations by pharmacies will initially be limited to about 36 pharmacies in the Counties Manukau, Waikato and Bay of Plenty regions where the pharmacists have done additional training and practical qualification.

While the decision is limited to three areas, Ms Young says she hopes that, in 2012, more pharmacies will be able to offer the service and it will become increasingly routine for people to get their influenza vaccinations from their local pharmacist.

"Community pharmacists in New Zealand have deep and detailed knowledge of medicines and would welcome a broader role in patient healthcare. It would also help alleviate some of the pressure points in our primary healthcare system."


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