Pharmacists ask why access to government-funded flu shot varies among states

By Melissa Coade

Monday May 3, 2021

‘Arm yourself’ is a new campaign urging Australians to get vaccinated against COVID-19. (Image: Adobe/REDPIXEL)

Patients across the nation should be able to get a flu shot in pharmacies across all states and jurisdictions, the Pharmaceutical Society of Australia (PSA) has said.

Nationwide, GPs are able to administer the influenza vaccine to people aged 65 and over on the commonwealth’s dime. But the PSA says the same rules do not apply when it comes to accessing the shot in pharmacies in states like South Australia and Queensland. 

“Pharmacists have become a normal part of the vaccination workforce. It is time to align the funding and regulation of pharmacist-administered vaccination with that of all other authorised immunisers,” PSA national president Dr Chris Freeman said. 

“At present, NIP-funded influenza vaccines can be administered by authorised pharmacists in the ACT, Victoria and Western Australia under certain conditions, with NSW the latest jurisdiction to approve this from the 2022 influenza season and has the backing of both political parties in Tasmania.”

The PSA is calling for national uniformity under the National Immunisation Program (NIP) when it comes to accessing vaccines in pharmacies. Dr Freeman believes there is no reasonable argument to deny South Australian or Queensland patients who want to access NIP-listed vaccinations at their pharmacy that they are entitled to and need. He has called for an end to the ‘frustrating’ situation.

“Pharmacists are the most accessible healthcare providers, yet in some states and territories, they cannot provide their patients with NIP-funded vaccines which are recommended for them. This is an incredibly frustrating experience for both patients and pharmacists.”


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