Will you be seeing a pharmacist for your vaccinations in the future?

Pharmacists administering vaccinations has been one of the hot topics in pharmacy in Australia in 2013, but in fact, this has been on the table for quite some time. As it stands, pharmacists are unable to administer vaccinations, but nurse practitioners have been administering vaccinations in some pharmacies in Australia. Here is a timeline summarizing what’s been happening in the not too distance past:

1.    The Pharmaceutical Society of Australia (PSA) Board released a position statement in November 2009 which supported the role of pharmacists administering vaccinations.

2.    When the draft Practice Guidelines for the Provision of Immunisation Services in Pharmacy document was released by the PSA in 2012, the debate heated up. The president of the Australian Medical Association (AMA), Dr Steve Hambleton, said that vaccinations should only be administered by a GP and not performed in a pharmacy. He cited reasons such as the fragmentation of the patient’s health record, concerns about possible side effects and the lack of privacy available in a pharmacy.

3.    In January 2013, there was an apparent show of support from the AMA in a letter to the PSA, which said that the AMA would “not support any future legislation change to allow pharmacists to administer injections until this was included in pharmacists’ core training.” Australian Doctor published an article titled “AMA succumbs to pharmacy vax bid.”

4.    In January 2013, Dr Hambleton then clarified the AMA’s position, saying that the AMA was not giving a “green light” to pharmacists giving vaccinations, again insisting that these should be administered by General Practitioners.

5.    In January 2013, the Pharmacy Guild of Australia and PSA continued to lobby for pharmacists in Australia to deliver immunisations, given that pharmacists in the UK and USA were administering vaccinations for measles, mumps, rubella, hepatitis B and meningococcal.

6.    In March 2013, the PSA issued guidelines for providing immunisation services in pharmacies.

7.    In June 2013, Kos Sclavos, the national president of the Pharmacy Guild of Australia spoke on ABC Brisbane radio, rejecting the “major scare campaign” regarding pharmacist’s abilities in dealing with reactions to vaccinations, including anaphylactic reactions. The president of the AMA’s Queensland branch hit back, saying that doctors would oppose vaccination administration by pharmacists, unless a general practice environment was recreated and vaccination facilities were co-located in the pharmacy.

8.   In July 2013 a poll of 2690 customers of Terry White Chemists who had received a flu vaccine from a nurse practitioner in Terry White Chemists found that more than 90% of customers supported calls for pharmacists to be given vaccination rights.

So where to from here? The PSA has said that they “will lead the development of immunisation administration training and credentialing for pharmacists and accreditation of sites in consultation with stakeholders. They will work through erquired legislative amendments with relevant stakeholders to enable to wider implementation of pharmacy-based immunisation services.”

We definitely have not heard that last of this issue!!

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