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Jest a queck jeb from your local Kiwi pharmacist

04 Mar 2014

New Zealand pharmacists have begun administering vaccines for whooping cough and meningococcal disease after acquiring authority to give flu jabs in 2012.

As Australian pharmacists intensify their lobbying for an expanded health role, including administering flu injections, their Kiwi counterparts were last month allowed to begin offering a wider range of vaccinations.

From 17 February, pharmacists at a number of pharmacies across the country who have undergone vaccination training were permitted to begin vaccinating people aged 18 years and older against whooping cough, and to immunise people aged 16 years and older against meningococcal disease.

Head of Professional Services at pharmacy chain Pharmacybrands, Alison Van Wyk, told news service Fuseworks Media the expanded role for pharmacists would help protect the community against serious disease by increasing access to vaccines.

 “We have a network of 250 trained, professional pharmacists who are qualified to vaccinate adults throughout the country,” Ms Van Wyk said. “It’s about addressing some of our key public health needs and giving our community more options.”

Industry figures show New Zealand pharmacists administered more than 8500 flu vaccinations last year.

But the AMA has been highly critical of a push to give Australian pharmacists a similar role, warning that lives could be put at risk.

In Queensland, a trial of pharmacist-administered flu vaccinations has begun, but AMA President Dr Steve Hambleton said patient health could be put at risk because pharmacists did not have the knowledge and skills to safely vaccinate people.

Dr Hambleton said pharmacists did not have the training to assess the safety of a vaccine for each patient, or to recognise and respond to adverse reactions.

In addition, he said, there was a multitude of issues regarding patient privacy, indemnity coverage, appropriate facilities, the fragmentation of care and the integrity of medical records.

“Immunisation is a clinical service; it should be done in a clinical setting,” Dr Hambleton said.

He was equally concerned about a secret push by pharmacists to undertake annual health checks of their customers, in return for a Government rebate.

Under the plan, revealed in leaked documents obtained by News Limited newspapers, the Pharmacy Guild of Australia proposed its members be paid $50 to conduct a 30-minute health check including weight, blood pressure and glucose and cholesterol levels.

Dr Hambleton said pharmacists were not trained to conduct such tests, nor to interpret the results: “If a problem is found, where do you go from there?” he asked.

Adrian Rollins

Published: 04 Mar 2014