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Pharmacists agree a measles outbreak should not be happening


The Pharmaceutical Society of New Zealand agrees with Dr Nikki Turner, Director of the Immunisation Advisory Centre who said recently that a measles outbreak in New Zealand “should not be happening.”

Richard Townley, Chief Executive of the Society says Dr Turner’s statement is correct that “we’ve known for a long time we’ve had gaps in immunisation, and nothing has been done in a co-ordinated way. We need a national approach.”

Mr Townley believes accredited pharmacist vaccinators are part of the solution. “There are 864 pharmacists accredited to provide vaccinations and a pharmacy in every community.”

“Your local pharmacy is already able to provide vaccinations for influenza, shingles (herpes zoster), Tdap (Tetanus, diptheria and whooping cough), and meningitis (meningococcal), but not for MMR (measles, mumps, rubella).”

“It is now urgent that the Ministry of Health amend the policies and regulations governing who can provide MMR vaccinations to include accredited pharmacist vaccinators, and for PHARMAC to fund the delivery of this service.”

Mr Townley, who has been working with the Ministry of Health on implementing their immunisation strategy, believes “now is the time for action.”

“There is a robust, proven set of procedures which pharmacist vaccinators follow when providing vaccinations to the public and they are trained the same as other health professionals to carry out vaccination services.”

One of the Ministry of Health’s main priorities is to improve equity in health care. “We are offering the Ministry a solution to directly address current inequities in healthcare, the worst of which are experienced by Māori,” explains Mr Townley.

“We know that childhood immunisation rates are falling and that regional outbreaks are occurring. Accredited pharmacist vaccinators can be part of the solution.”

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