The West

Doctors blast pharmacy flu jabs
Doctors blast pharmacy flu jabs

West Australians can walk into a pharmacy and get a flu vaccination for $30 from next month.

The Priceline pharmacies chain is launching the walk-in service at its 120 stores, including six in WA.

A doctor's prescription is not needed to get the flu shot.

Doctors have criticised the service, arguing it reduces the flu vaccine to little more than retail products such as shampoo.

Priceline says the move will help busy families, particularly mothers of young children.

People aged 15 to 64 will be able to buy the vaccine and receive their shot within 20 minutes.

The service could attract people who have complained of out-of-pocket costs of $30 to $40 when they receive the vaccine at a doctor's surgery, even if they qualify for the Federal Government's free flu vaccination program.

Last month, the Health Department warned consumers to ask their doctor or immunisation provider about any charges when they made an appointment.

People eligible for a free vaccine include those aged 65 and over, Aboriginals aged 15 and over, pregnant women and people with underlying medical problems.

WA health authorities also fund a free program for children aged between six months and five years.

Australian Medical Association WA president Dave Mountain said he was concerned that Priceline was downgrading an important health measure. He said the Federal AMA had recently put out a policy on safety protocols for the storage, administering and recording of vaccinations.

"But what we're seeing here is the continued disjointing of health care where a vaccine just becomes like any other product that is there to sell and make a profit out of," he said. "It seems to be another tilt at increasing the profits of pharmacies by turning them into instant flu vaccine clinics."

Dr Mountain defended GPs who charged a consultation fee for administering the flu vaccine, even for patients on the Government-funded program.

"It's not just about giving out a free vaccine because there are important safeguards for the storage and use of these products," he said. "It's also very important that the use of these vaccines is recorded on the patient's file." Dr Mountain said while acute adverse reactions to vaccines were rare, it was important that side effects could be monitored and recorded.

The West Australian

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