Globally, vaccination is estimated to save between 2 and 3 million lives annually. Yet low immunisation rates are a significant public health concern. IHBI researchers are part of a solution involving pharmacists that started in Queensland and has spread across Australia.
IHBI Professor Lisa Nissen has led research as part of a Queensland collaboration that implemented and evaluated pharmacist vaccination through the Queensland Pharmacist
Immunisation Pilot (QPIP). The collaboration involves QUT, the Pharmaceutical Society of Australia, the Pharmacy Guild of Australia, James Cook University and Queensland Health.
The collaboration partners recognise that better access to vaccination services through community pharmacies could influence immunisation rates. Pharmacists are readily accessible and have competency in managing medications, including vaccines; managing deteriorating patients; and
understanding the importance of keeping vaccines in a temperature-controlled supply chain.
Professor Nissen says the research identified the physical administration of injections as a competency gap for the Queensland pharmacists. It found training could be developed with involvement from Canadian collaborators who had been vaccinating patients in pharmacies for more than a decade. The training was adapted for Australia and delivered to an initial cohort of more than 300 pharmacists.
‘After completing the training, the participating pharmacists felt highly confident about injecting patients,’ Professor Nissen says. Pharmacists were trained across all common vaccinations, with the initial Queensland program focusing on influenza and expanded to include delivery of measles and whooping cough vaccinations in subsequent years.
During the two-year QPIP, pharmacists immunised more than 35 000 people, with more than 99 per cent saying they would be happy to return to a community pharmacy for vaccination in the future.
‘QPIP has demonstrated the effectiveness of equipping pharmacists with the knowledge, skills and competencies to administer injections and to establish and deliver a successful immunisation service in community pharmacies,’ Professor Nissen says.
The pilot’s success led the Queensland Government to approve legislation to enable pharmacists to administer vaccinations to the public in a community pharmacy setting. Pharmacist-delivered vaccination in the community has been a solution for increasing vaccination uptake for influenza in countries such as the UK, the US, Canada and New Zealand.
Professor Nissen says there is evidence from Canada and the US that national immunisation programs involving pharmacists positively affect immunisation rates. ‘QPIP has paved the way for legislative changes to allow pharmacist-administered vaccinations across the whole of Australia,’ she says. ‘Because of QPIP, the value of pharmacists as immunisers is now acknowledged across the country.’
Many universities in Australia have also incorporated immunisation training in their pharmacy programs.
Institute of Health and Biomedical Innovation (IHBI)
- Phone: 3138 6000
- Fax: 3138 6030
60 Musk Avenue
- Postal address:
Institute of Health and Biomedical Innovation
GPO Box 2434
Brisbane QLD 4001