By Zac Street and produced for online by Kristy McMahon
The Australian Medical Association has criticised national pharmacy outlet Priceline Pharmacy for offering flu vaccines over the counter.
Priceline says it is simply offering people convenience but the AMA warns the move will put people’s health at risk.
Priceline is offering customers the vaccine for around $30 and without a GP’s script.
Pharmacy services manager Bronwyn Flannagan says it is all about making it more convenient for people to get vaccinated.
“It’s been in fantastic demand, this is our third year from running and we’ve had repeat patients come back to the flu clinic saying it’s quick it’s easy it’s accessible and it only cost’s $30,” she says.
Ms Flannagan says all vaccinations delivered in pharmacies comply with the AMA’s strict safety guidelines.
“So we have highly qualified nurse vaccinators that bring the vaccine in with them, we vaccinate in a safe environment and a screened off environment,” she says.
AMA president Dr Steven Hambleton says receiving the vaccine from your local GP is still the best way to go.
Dr Hambleton says the over the counter move means individual medical records will be harder to monitor for doctors.
“There are multiple locations now where vaccines are delivered, local councils certainly deliver them, certainly we see them delivered in schools frankly there are medical records all over the place,” he says.
Dr Hambleton says the fragmentation of medical records is confusing for doctors and patients alike.
“We do have patients coming into the GP saying ‘well I had a vaccination I’m not sure which one it was certainly not sure which brand it was’,” he says.
But despite the concern, he says there are definite benefits to getting vaccinated, particularly if you are over 65.
“For healthy adults getting a flu vaccine may mean that you won’t get the flu at all for elderly people and people with immune systems that are not as functional you may well still get the flu but we’re trying to avoid serious complications of the flu like pneumonia,” he says.