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17 Dec 2013

Pharmacists could soon be administering vaccinations after the Pharmacy Board of Australia announced its approval of the controversial change.
In a communique issued on 5 December, the Board said that “in its opinion, vaccination is within the current scope of practice of a pharmacist”.

The go-ahead follows a proposal from the Pharmaceutical Society of Australia earlier this year that pharmacists be allowed to administer vaccines.
But the AMA has warned the move is premature, and pharmacists should not be permitted to administer injections until such procedures are included in core training, and were not just an adjunct.

AMA President Dr Steve Hambleton said earlier this year that vaccinations such as the annual flu injection needed to be carried out by GPs, not pharmacists.
“The AMA has a lot of concerns with pharmacies offering vaccinations,” Dr Hambleton said. “There is no privacy. Patients need to be made aware of possible side effects and discuss their medical history. What private room can a pharmacy offer a patient?”

The AMA President said those who administered injections needed to be able to identify anaphylaxis and other possible health issues, and having pharmacists do it would fragment medical records.

“We have patients coming into the GP to say they had some kind of needle at a chemist,” Dr Hambleton said.

While the Pharmacy Board has given approval for pharmacists to administer vaccines, many fundamental details of arrangements are yet to be finalised, particularly the nature and timing of training.

“Further work regarding competence to do so, standards, training, and where this may take place, will need to be completed before vaccination by a pharmacist will be able to occur,” the Board said.

Among the issues to be resolved is whether vaccination training is included in the core curriculum for pharmacists, potentially enabling all to vaccinate, or requires an additional unit of study following graduation.

The Pharmacy Society of Australia welcomed the Board’s decision, arguing there was “overwhelming clinical and scientific evidence” that pharmacists administered vaccinations safely and effectively.

There is speculation that Queensland may become the first place where pharmacists vaccinate customers, with suggestions the State Government is considering a trial during the next flu season.

Adrian Rollins

Published: 17 Dec 2013