Select community pharmacies will be invited to provide National Immunisation Program (NIP) funded influenza vaccines as part of the 2022 vaccination program.
As winter approaches, Minister for Health and Ambulance Services Yvette D’Ath said the Queensland Government was taking additional measures to ensure access to the influenza vaccine for the most at-risk Queenslanders.
“National Immunisation Program funded influenza vaccines have been previously only available in Queensland through approved GPs and community clinics,” Minister D’Ath said.
“This year, we will invite more than 70 pharmacies in certain regional areas to participate in a pilot program to provide NIP funded influenza vaccines.
“The pilot will enable select pharmacists to apply to become registered NIP providers for the influenza vaccine. Once they are approved, people aged 65 years and older will be able to get the influenza vaccine from these providers.
“We are prioritising people aged 65 years and older as they are at increased risk of complications from influenza.
“The purpose of the pilot is to increase access to the influenza vaccine for the most vulnerable cohorts in our regional areas.”
Minister D’Ath said the pharmacies invited to participate have been chosen based on several factors.
“The pharmacies selected were chosen for a number of reasons, including their ability to already administer the COVID-19 vaccine, being located outside South East Queensland and large regional centres, and having more than 20 per cent of their service area population aged 65 years and over,” Minister D’Ath said.
“Eligible pharmacies in Hervey Bay, Maryborough, Charters Towers, Ayr, Ingham, and Innisfail, as well as parts of Darling Downs, Granite Belt, Tablelands, Gympie and the Burnett regions will be invited to participate in the pilot.”
Minister D’Ath said engaging pharmacies that also administer the COVID-19 vaccine will provide opportunities for co-administration of the influenza vaccine with the COVID-19 winter booster dose for people aged 65 years and older.
“The pilot program will improve access to co-administered influenza vaccine and the COVID-19 winter booster dose, making it even more convenient for regional Queenslanders to protect themselves.
“These are two critical vaccines to protect against specific respiratory illnesses, and it is vital our most at-risk Queenslanders are protected coming into the cooler months, when we are likely to see COVID-19 and influenza running concurrently.”
The pilot program will run throughout this year’s flu season.
Flu season in Queensland is typically from June to September, with the peak usually in August. Late April and throughout May is the best time to receive the flu jab to ensure the best protection during the peak.