Australian first: Influenza vaccine now available for 5 years and older from pharmacists, but over 65’s still missing out.
Wednesday 6th March 2022
The Pharmaceutical Society of Australia’s (PSA) Queensland Branch welcomes increased access to the influenza vaccine for Queensland children, but is deeply concerned this is only temporary and that barriers to access still remain for those aged 65 and over.
Under emergency health orders, Queensland pharmacists can now administer influenza vaccines to children 5 years and over in any Australian Government and Queensland Government controlled COVID-19 vaccination service, including community pharmacies, medical centres, hospitals, Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisations (ACCHOs), aged care and disability centres.
PSA Queensland Branch President, Shane MacDonald, welcomed this Australian first move but was frustrated that access for an equally susceptible cohort remains restricted.
“This is a sensible change, and not a moment too soon.
“Children can be influenza super-spreaders and vaccination is the best line of defence for themselves and those around them.
“The upcoming school holidays are a great opportunity for kids to come in for their COVID-19 and influenza vaccines on the same day. Flu vaccines are available now, so make an appointment for the whole family today through your local pharmacy.
“Despite leading in the protection of children, the Queensland Government now needs to act to support those over the age of 65 to access National Immunisation Program flu vaccines from pharmacies.
“Right now, Queenslanders aged 65 years are unable to access the recommended vaccine for their age from their pharmacy, with the Queensland Government denying access to the National Immunisation Program to pharmacies, something that the rest of the country is supporting this year.
“Experts anticipate that the severity of influenza will be highly unpredictable this year, and the season will soon be in full swing. By failing to allow pharmacists, our most accessible healthcare workforce, to vaccinate older Queenslanders, these people are being significantly disadvantaged.
“It makes no sense that a mum can bring her kids into the pharmacy for their flu vaccine, but grandma and grandpa can’t join them. Why do they need to join the queue at a government clinic, or make an appointment with a GP?
“We must join the rest of the country by removing barriers to vaccination and aligning the funding and regulation of pharmacist-administered vaccinations with that of all other authorised immunisers,” Mr MacDonald said.
PSA will continue to work closely with the Queensland Government to improve accessibility to the seasonal influenza vaccine, ultimately improving access for vulnerable Queenslanders.
Media contact: PSA media 0424 777 463