Queensland boosts flu shot coverage

·2-min read

An extra 70 pharmacies in Queensland's regions will help administer flu shots as part of a pilot scheme linked to the National Immunisation Program this winter.

The measure follows free vaccination clinics in Sydney and Melbourne, while Tasmania is also offering jabs to critical industry workers and their families without charge this weekend before free rural pop-up clinics roll out in coming weeks.

Health Minister Yvette D'Ath says Queensland's additional pharmacy measures will ensure access to the vaccine for the state's most at-risk as the cold season approaches

"National Immunisation Program funded influenza vaccines have been previously only available in Queensland through approved GPs and community clinics," she said on Saturday.

"The pilot will enable select pharmacists to apply to become registered NIP providers."

Once approved, people aged 65 and older will be able to get their shots from them.

Ms D'Ath says the elderly have been prioritised as they are at increased risk of complications from influenza.

The pharmacies have been invited to participate based on several factors including their ability to already administer COVID-19 shots, locations beyond main population centres and greater than 20 per cent service area populations aged 65 or over.

The program will run throughout this year's flu season, typically from June to September with the peak usually in August.

Now is considered the best time to receive the jab to ensure strongest protection.

Research commissioned by advocacy group Immunisation Coalition found just 35 per cent of adults under 65 planned to have flu shots this year, despite 73 per cent expecting this season to be worse than 2020 and 2021.

The group hosted free vaccination clinics at Melbourne and Sydney town halls on Friday with support from the St Vincent's Mobile Immunisation and Health Service.

With a severe flu season likely to exacerbate ongoing workforce and supply chain issues, the Australian College of Nursing has also called on Australians to ensure their vaccinations are up to date.

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