Pharmacists may be authorised to provide influenza vaccinations to children as young as 10 under regulation changes being considered by the State Government.
Current regulations require a child to be at least 16 years old to receive their influenza vaccination from a pharmacist.
Minister for Health and Wellbeing Stephen Wade said the changes would make it easier for parents to get their children vaccinated and help build up herd immunity among the South Australian community ahead of the next flu season.
“We have just experienced a particularly bad flu season and it is important we are proactive in preventing the disease by ensuring as many people are vaccinated as possible,” Minister Wade said.
“Organising to get to the GP for a flu vaccine, especially for parents with children aged between 10 and 16, can often be a difficult exercise.
“That is why we are looking at giving parents more opportunities to get their children vaccinated so more South Australians are protected against the potentially fatal disease.”
Minister Wade said the changes would have a particular benefit to regional areas where access to general practitioners is more limited.
The proposal will be reviewed by clinicians at the next meeting of the Vaccine Preventable Diseases Advisory Group of South Australia and will only apply to self-funded vaccinations and not those provided under the National Immunisation Program.
The Department for Health and Wellbeing’s Chief Public Health Officer, Associate Professor Nicola Spurrier, said the proposed changes would help ensure more South Australian children are protected.
“Having an annual influenza vaccination is the best way to prevent catching the flu,” Assoc. Prof Spurrier said.
“Having as many people as possible vaccinated each year will go a long way towards creating a healthier community and easing the pressure on our health system as a whole.”
The interim Chief Pharmacist, Naomi Burgess, said the changes would place South Australia as one of the few states to extend the pharmacy flu vaccination to young people.
“The changes will mean South Australians will have better access to vaccinations and less chances of catching a deadly disease.”
This flu season, SA Health distributed over 630,000 doses of funded influenza vaccine but tragically 106 South Australians lost their lives to the disease.