Jab updates will ‘significantly improve’ health woes

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FOLLOWING one of Canberra’s worst flu seasons, the Pharmaceutical Society of Australia, in its 2020-21 pre-budget submission, is pushing for a number of no or low cost initiatives that would significantly improve health outcomes for Canberrans.

They would also reduce pressure on the region’s “at capacity” emergency departments, the society says.

Through the submission, the society is calling for vaccinations to be more widely accessible through pharmacy.

National president of the society, associate Prof Chris Freeman, says the ACT has just experienced one of its worst flu seasons on record and had a number of cases of measles.

Society president associate Prof Chris Freeman

“Vaccination continues to be a vital health intervention in this country,” he says.

“Pharmacists have been vaccinating Canberrans against influenza and pertussis since 2015 and pharmacist-administered vaccination has been shown to be safe, convenient and accessible. However, funding and availability of pharmacist-administered vaccination in the ACT has not kept pace with other jurisdictions.

“While the training pharmacists complete to administer vaccines is similar to that of other health professionals, such as nurse practitioners, pharmacists are unable to provide eligible Canberrans with a similar level of access to vaccines funded on the National Immunisation Program.”

The society is proposing allowing all authorised immunisers to provide the same range of vaccines and extending the age range to allow patients the same access as other jurisdictions.

“This will improve access and equity for consumers and encourage public uptake of these vaccines by reducing financial barriers to vaccination,” Prof Freeman says.

“Almost half of Canberra’s pharmacies are already set-up to deliver these vaccines, meaning this recommendation could be quickly and cost effectively implemented. In fact, we believe there is no direct investment required.”

Pressure on the hospital system could also be reduced by expanding pharmacists’ ability to provide care after hours for Canberrans with minor ailments and conditions, the society says.

The society also seeks the ACT government’s commitment to provide funding of $2 million to support a two-year pilot of formal triage and referral services in six geographically dispersed after-hours pharmacies.

The budget submission advocates for a full-time pharmacist within the Winnunga Nimmityjah Aboriginal Health and Community Services and for the ACT to become a signatory to the Public Hospital Reform with the Commonwealth.

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