Pharmacies ready to help protect Australians against flu

Community pharmacies stand ready to help all Australians follow the advice of the Minister for Health Greg Hunt to get their flu vaccination this month.

Many pharmacies have received or will soon receive their stock of flu vaccine and offer a convenient and accessible way for people to be vaccinated. Where stocks have not yet been received, or initial supplies have been expended, we ask members of the public to be patient with their local pharmacy as more stock will flow through the supply chain in the coming days and weeks.

National President of the Pharmacy Guild of Australia, George Tambassis, said it was especially important for all Australians to be vaccinated against the flu this year – and to be vaccinated early.

“The ongoing COVID-19 crisis highlights how critical it is to remain as healthy as possible to have a stronger resistance to catching it, or to recover quickly if you do catch it,” he said.

“Australia is in the unenviable situation of having to deal with the crisis at a time of the year when we usually face the onset of the flu season.

“There is no vaccination for COVID-19 as yet, but there is for the flu and protecting yourself from this disease has never been more important. You need to remain as healthy as possible to reduce the likelihood of contracting COVID-19.”

Mr Tambassis said the ease of access to pharmacies for flu vaccinations was an important element in building community immunity against the disease. National Immunisation Program (NIP) vaccines for the vulnerable are available through pharmacy in some States and Territories, but not all – the Guild would like to see this expanded to all jurisdictions as a matter of urgency. The Guild also supports a uniform minimum patient vaccination age of 10 years across all jurisdictions.

“The fact that pharmacists are most accessible of all health professionals is why governments across Australia quickly realised the value of having trained pharmacists authorised to vaccinate.

“This has translated into huge numbers of people being vaccinated and while last year was a bad flu season, there is no doubt it would have been a lot worse if pharmacies were not on hand to help people protect themselves from the disease.”

“It is important to remember that the vaccination also protects you from spreading the flu virus. If you are not immunised, you can still be a ‘carrier’ even if you have no symptoms.

“This means you can still spread the disease without knowing you are doing so.

“The flu shot doesn’t just benefit the person who gets it, it also helps protect everyone around the person who has been vaccinated and this can include the very young, the very old and people whose immune systems may have been weakened or compromised.”

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