Chemist giant offers $14 flu vaccines
One of Australia's leading pharmacy chains is offering in-store flu vaccinations administered by nurse practitioners for $13.99.
Chemist Warehouse is advertising the services under the tag line Arm Up Against the Flu and says the shots are at the "lowest prices guaranteed".
The vaccinations are administered by nurse practitioners, who also write the scripts.
The work is subsidised under the Medicare nurse practitioner attendance items. Customers are told to bring their Medicare card.
Two years ago pharmacy chain Terry White was blasted by the AMA when it started employing nurses to administer in-store vaccinations.
But the move by Chemist Warehouse has now become part of a wider turf war among doctors, pharmacists and nurses over who should and who should not administer flu shots.
This year Queensland announced a pilot scheme where 120 pharmacists will be allowed to administer flu vaccinations to adults who do not fall under the National Immunisation pilot.
It is expected around 20,000 shots will be administered, with patients charged between $20 and $30.
And the NT government is also changing its laws to allow the territory's community pharmacists to administer vaccinations — with NSW hinting it could follow suit.
But the reaction from nurses has been cool.
The Revive Clinic — the company providing nurse practitioners to Chemist Warehouse — is questioning the safety of the Queensland pilot project, running a full-page advertisement in a Queensland newspaper urging consumers not to "be fooled".
It claims "pharmacists are not legally approved to vaccinate anywhere in Australia due to not having the required medical training".
Those claims have been dismissed by the Pharmacy Guild of Australia as factually incorrect.
The AMA too has waded into the battle, saying vaccinations should only be administered by a GP and not performed in a local chemist — whether by a nurse or a pharmacist.
"The AMA has a lot of concerns with pharmacies offering vaccinations," said Dr Hambleton said last year.
"There is no privacy. Patients need to be made aware of possible side effects and discuss their medical history. What private room can a pharmacy offer a patient?"
And Dr Hambleton said any nurse who administered a vaccination must be able to diagnose anaphylaxis.
"I want to know who will deliver the needles, they need specific training. What questions are asked before the vaccine is administered? And where will they record the information?"