GUNNEDAH pharmacists hope the boost in services they can offer from this year will lead to more people getting life-saving vaccinations – and so far, so good.
Chemist shops and pharmacies will be able to give diphtheria-tetanus-pertussis, measles-mumps-rubella and flu shots to people aged over 16 years.
One pharmacist who already has accreditation to do this is Karen Carter Chemist’s Karen Carter, who said it was “a really good benefit in conjunction with the doctors’ service, not opposed to it”.
“It’s a great convenience for clients, especially we now can do whooping cough,” she said.
“We’ve got some people coming in today because their niece had a baby yesterday, but they can’t go see the baby until they’ve had their whooping cough vaccine …
“We just want to get more people immunised and this allows that to happen.”
Gunnedah Discount Drug Store’s Annette Osmond said she and fellow pharmacist Lisa Hagley would also undertake the accreditation process next month.
Pharmacists have previously been able to administer influenza vaccines to healthy people aged 18-plus years.
The changes aim to make vaccines more readily available, particularly in areas where access to GPs is more limited, but there are some exceptions.
Aboriginal people, those with chronic illnesses, pregnant women and people over 65 will still need to visit a general practice or community health clinic, as this allows their health to be assessed at the same time.
The same goes for children.
“Obviously if we have a concern with someone, we won’t be issuing it; we’ll be sending them to the doctor,” Mrs Carter said.
Member for Northern Tablelands Adam Marshall said it was “a great thing” for the people of the region to have more choice.
“We know all too well that at times it can be difficult to access a local GP, and those who can often have to wait,” he said.
“It is also a public recognition of the professionalism, training and experience of our local pharmacists.”
Minister for Health Brad Hazzard said he particularly encouraged new grandparents, carers of infants, and partners of pregnant women “to get vaccinated to ensure they don’t catch whooping cough and pass it on to their babies”.