Pharmacy Guild says NSW government should 'catch up' with the rest of Australia

The NSW Branch of the Pharmacy Guild of Australia has called on the state government to "catch up" with Victoria, Western Australia and the ACT and empower pharmacists to administer vaccines through the taxpayer subsidised National Immunisation Program (NIP).

The Guild says during a global coronavirus pandemic, flu vaccinations have become more critical than ever before.

A NSW Health spokesperson said it had already distributed a record 2.71 million federally supplied doses of flu vaccine across the state since March 30, which is a million more doses than distributed in the same period last year and is enough vaccine for over a third of the population.

David Heffernan

David Heffernan

President of the Pharmacy Guild of Australia - NSW Branch David Heffernan said it was not fair that people were prevented from being vaccinated by who they want, just because of where they live.

"This number of Australians being immunised against the flu by community pharmacists is remarkable. Especially given this is just the fourth year it has been available in every state and territory," he said.

"But, NSW needs to catch up with Victoria, Western Australia and the ACT to empower pharmacists to administer vaccines through the taxpayer subsidised National Immunisation Program (NIP).

"The NIP means older Australians, and other vulnerable groups can get their flu vaccine from the healthcare professional of their choice and in their local community pharmacy if they want to.

"Unfortunately, unlike those elsewhere, over-65s in NSW aren't allowed to choose which healthcare provider they want to receive their NIP flu vaccine from.

"Under the taxpayer-subsidised NIP, people in NSW should get the same choice as those in other states."

Labor's Shadow Minister for Health Ryan Park said with the risk of COVID-19 still high, NSW could not afford a horror flu season.

"Any step we can take to prevent people getting influenza needs to be explored," he said.

"The state government needs to make it easier for people, especially older Australians, to access lifesaving flu vaccines.

"NSW has seen the most cases of COVID-19 in Australia - we need to be leading in our flu vaccines as well."

A NSW Health spokesperson said private businesses including pharmacies and GPs, are responsible for ordering and securing their own supplies of influenza vaccine which are not part of the National Immunisation Program.

"NSW Health does not have any oversight on private market supplies," the spokesperson said.

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