16 April 2015
General practice settings provide the safest and most appropriate place to get vaccinated, not pharmacies which pose serious risks to patients and hidden health system costs, GP leaders have warned.
Australia’s peak primary care organisations have joined forces to take a stand, following the expansion of pharmacy services in recent years to include vaccination.
United General Practice Australia (UGPA) maintains that while integrating clinical pharmacists into the primary healthcare multidisciplinary team has merit, pharmacies (retail outlets) are not the appropriate setting for the administration of vaccines.
Pharmacists are not trained to deal with the complexities that come with vaccination programs including appropriate counselling prior to administration and the management of potential adverse reactions including anaphylaxis.
Unlike pharmacy settings, general practices are able to provide a safe, private and comfortable setting to discuss confidential patient details prior to administering a vaccine. GPs also have access to critical information including patients’ medical history and are trained to deal with adverse reactions, which may not present immediately.
There is no evidence that delivering vaccinations via pharmacists will improve efficiency. If anything, direct pharmacist involvement will have the opposite effect because of reduced presentations to the most efficient and effective component of primary health care. The impact of patients presenting to pharmacies instead of general practice will result in fragmentation of care, missed opportunities for preventative health, reduced patient safety, increased risk, and more health waste.
Patients who are vaccinated at a pharmacy will face gaps in their medical history and may miss opportunities for important health interventions because pharmacists cannot update medical records and are not trained to diagnose or manage care.
UGPA unanimously agrees that general practice must remain at the centre of any vaccination program because it is the most appropriate hub for the provision of coordinated, quality medical care.
UGPA maintains that instead of administering vaccines, pharmacists should encourage people to visit their GP to receive immunisation and other preventive healthcare.