With the winter flu season fast approaching, Federal Member for Hunter, Joel Fitzgibbon has highlighted the value of getting a flu vaccination through local community pharmacies.
Influenza is a highly contagious viral infection that can cause serious illness and is responsible for about 13,500 hospitalisations in Australia each year.
Flu vaccinations are particularly important for people who fall within high risk groups like the elderly, pregnant women, those with asthma, people with pre-existing medical conditions and those who care for them.
While flu shots can be administered by a GP, people can also access a flu shot simply and easily at a local pharmacy. Mr Fitzgibbon visited Singleton Discount Drug Store today to learn more about the importance of flu shots from local staff.
“It is easy for anyone to get their flu shot with trained community pharmacists who are now able to directly administer the flu vaccine,” Mr Fitzgibbon said.
“What this means is that anyone can just come to a pharmacy which provides this service and organise their protection against this year’s flu strain.”
Mr Fitzgibbon said the availability of flu shots through pharmacies was important for communities throughout his electorate.
“The availability of vaccination by pharmacists greatly assists the community’s access to protection against the flu where previously they may have not had accessibility or access was difficult and cumbersome,” he said.
Proprietor of Singleton Discount Drug Store, Emma Bowes, said that having pharmacists deliver vaccinations was a huge benefit for consumers.
“In the short time that community pharmacists have been allowed to administer the vaccine there has been a high percentage of people being vaccinated for the first time,” she said.
“The convenience, affordability and ease of access to pharmacy flu vaccinations means more people are getting protection against this disease.”
Mr Fitzgibbon said that consumers can be confident about getting their flu shots in a pharmacy as pharmacists giving the shot have had to undergo special training.
“Pharmacists have the knowledge and skills to both deliver the vaccine safely and effectively, as well as being able to identify and treat any possible side effects,” he said.
People in high risk categories may be eligible to receive the flu shot for free under the 2017 National Immunisation Program. For more information, visit here.