World Immunisation Week: Long Life for All – In pursuit of a long life well lived
Sunday 24th April 2022
Today, 24th April, marks the start of World Immunisation Week, an occasion dedicated to encouraging the use of vaccines to protect people of all ages against disease.
Second only to clean drinking water, vaccination is one of the most important health interventions to reduce mortality. The positive impact on human health is difficult to overestimate.
A/Prof Chris Freeman, National President of the Pharmaceutical Society of Australia, acknowledged this important period, praising all of Australia’s authorised immunisers.
“I would like to take this opportunity to thank all of Australia’s immunisers, especially our pharmacist immunisers, for your vaccination efforts over the course of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“COVID-19 aside, our nation’s immunisers have gone above and beyond for their patients and communities to ensure that Australians are keeping up to date with all vaccinations, during a time when traditional primary healthcare arrangements have been altered drastically.
“The theme of World Immunisation Week this year is Long Life for All – In pursuit of a long life well lived, perfectly capturing what we, as pharmacist immunisers, are helping achieve, with every vaccine we administer.
“Over 6.8 million COVID-19 vaccine doses have now been administered by pharmacists through local pharmacies, and many, many more have been administered in hubs, hospitals, general practice and Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisations (ACCHOs).
“With the influenza season now in full swing, pharmacists have already made significant progress in the national vaccination campaign, where they have now administered over 275,000 influenza vaccines in 2022.”
He went on call for better access to all vaccinations from pharmacists.
“The benefits of vaccination on human health are clear, but still, barriers to vaccine access remain.
“Only a small selection of vaccinations are available from pharmacists and there are still restrictions on the age and location they can be administered. We need to ensure all vaccinations are available, when and where people need them.
“Funding provided for vaccinations also creates barriers to access.
“As it stands, the public is unable to access the same level of subsidies for the administration of National Immunisation Program (NIP) vaccines when they visit their pharmacist compared to other vaccine providers. Unfortunately, this then leaves vulnerable population groups potentially out of pocket for a critical public health measure.
“With the Federal Election to taking place in less than a month, the incoming government must prioritise the equity of vaccine administration payments for the public accessing NIP vaccines, ensuring that immunisation programs can continue sustainably.
“Introducing a single MBS service payment to pharmacists for assessing suitability and administering vaccinations funded through the NIP will ensure that vaccines such as COVID-19 and influenza remain viable when administered by a pharmacist, and dramatically reduce out of pocket costs for patients.
“Failure to remunerate pharmacists for these services makes it harder for people to be protected and limits uptake, factors which will have dire consequences on the health and wellbeing of the population,” A/Prof Freeman said.
Over the coming months, PSA is committed to working with the incoming government to tackling barriers precluding access to vaccination through Australia’s frontline healthcare workforce, pharmacists.
Media contact: PSA media 0424 777 463