An Illawarra pharmacist has welcomed news that measles and whooping cough vaccinations will be available at pharmacies from next January.
Convenient Chemist pharmacist Asim Iqbal hopes the move will help lift immunisation rates by making vaccinations more widely accessible.
Mr Iqbal, of the Illawarra Pharmacist Association, said trained pharmacists already administered flu shots and would now be able to help guard people against other infectious diseases.
“From next January, specially trained pharmacists will be able to give the measles, mumps, rubella (MMR) and the diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis (dTpa) shots as well as the flu shots,” he said.
“I think the convenience of having these available at pharmacies will increase the percentage of people who do get vaccinated.
“For instance I often talk to grandparents who are excited about the arrival of a new grandchild but haven’t thought about getting vaccinated for whooping cough.”
Deputy Premier John Barilaro and Health Minister Brad Hazzard announced the measures on Friday, saying the NSW Government had acted on a NSW Health recommendation.
“People tell us access to a GP can be difficult at times whether you live in the city, country or on the coast, so expanding pharmacy vaccinations gives people more choice,”Mr Barilaro said
“People aged 18 and over can already pay to have their flu jab at pharmacies and soon people 16 and over can do the same and get other jabs too, such as measles.”
Mr Iqbal said he started administering flu shots three years ago.
“In the first year I gave about 40 shots, then around 80 shots in the second year and this year I gave around 200 shots,” he said. “So I think people who may not have got the shot otherwise, have done so because of the wider accessibility.”
Mr Hazzard said he hoped the expansion of vaccination options at pharmacies would also ensure people got immunised before travelling overseas.
“Australia has wiped out measles and the only reported cases are from unvaccinated people who acquire it overseas and then infect others locally,” Mr Hazzard said.
“We hope new grandparents, carers of infants and partners of pregnant women also make use of the additional services to protect newborn babies from whooping cough.”