WA’s Community Pharmacy Immunisation Program expanded

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The Western Australian government has announced the expansion of the Community Pharmacy Immunisation Program in WA, a move that the Pharmacy Guild of Australia says will save lives.

The Pharmacy Guild of Australia WA Branch President Mr Andrew Ngeow said the expansion will improve access to vaccines and “is a significant step in delivering the WA government’s 2021 general election to the Pharmacy Guild of Australia WA Branch”.

“It acknowledges the outstanding efforts of community pharmacy to remain open and provide over one million safe Covid-19 vaccines throughout the state,” he said.

This expansion includes:

  • Influenza vaccinations for people aged 5 years and older, eligible for the National Immunisation Program (NIP), including Aboriginal people, people with medical conditions that increase their risk of influenza, pregnant women, and people aged 65 years and older.
  • Adolescent vaccinations, including Human Papillomavirus (HPV), Diphtheria-tetanus-acellular pertussis (dTpa) and Meningococcal ACWY.
  • Influenza vaccinations for primary school-aged children.
  • Measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccinations for people born after 1965 who have had less than two doses.

Reportedly the expansion will only cover the supply of vaccines and community pharmacies will still have to cover their costs by passing on a small administration fee to patients.

However, the Pharmacy Guild is advocating that the Commonwealth government cover these costs as they do for GPs.

“The Commonwealth should deliver equity to patients of community pharmacy,” Mr Ngeow said.

“While many patients have been willing to pay a small vaccine administration fee for the convenience and accessibility of a pharmacy administered vaccine, it doesn’t mean that they should do so forever.”

There are more than 500 community pharmacies authorised to provide one or more vaccines in Western Australia, many of these in regional and rural areas of the state.

It is anticipated that a community pharmacy will be able to provide this service outside their premises as is currently authorised for other vaccinations.

Thanking the WA government for “their commitment to community pharmacy”, Mr Ngeow said the Pharmacy Guild of Australia WA Branch “looks forward to further exploring primary health opportunities for the sector into the future”.