For the first time in NSW, pharmacists are now able to offer vaccines to adolescents who have missed out on their school vaccinations during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Under new regulations that took effect today, for the first time pharmacists will be able to administer the human papillomavirus virus and diphtheria-tetanus-pertussis combination vaccines to people 12 years and over and the meningococcal ACWY vaccine to those aged 14 years and over.
Chief Health Officer Dr Kerry Chant said pharmacists can play a key role in supporting the NSW Health School Vaccination Program, which provides routine adolescent vaccinations at schools across NSW.
“Every year, the NSW Health School Vaccination Program provides the full range of adolescent vaccines to students across the state,” Dr Chant said.
“But the impact of COVID-19 has been wide reaching, and almost 80,000 students missed out on their routine vaccinations in 2020 and 2021 due to illness or when schools were closed during the COVID-19 lockdowns.
NSW Health is working hard to ensure every student is offered catch-up vaccination this year through the school program. However, we know that some students miss out, for example if they are absent on the day of the clinic.
“To make it easier for these students to get up to date with their immunisations, we are now making routine NSW Government-funded adolescent vaccinations accessible through local pharmacies across NSW. Adolescent vaccines are already available at GPs.”
In addition, pharmacists will now be able to administer measles-mumps-rubella to people aged 12 years and over (lowered from 16 years) for anyone who may require it, such as those who have missed out on their routine vaccination at 12 and 18 months.
Pharmacy Guild of Australia NSW Branch President David Heffernan congratulated the NSW Government on expanding the vaccines available in community pharmacies.
“The decision to offer these additional vaccines in community pharmacies provides more options to young people and their families,” Mr Heffernan said.
“Community pharmacies welcome the opportunity to provide more vaccination services to their patients.”
Pharmaceutical Society of Australia NSW President, Chelsea Felkai, welcomed the announcement, highlighted by the PSA as a key priority.
“The pharmacist workforce has demonstrated its ability to increase vaccination rates, which has the potential to further reduce the disease burden associated with vaccine preventable diseases such as meningococcal disease and ensures progress towards HPV elimination is achieved.”
Dr Chant said vaccines will not only protect adolescents but others too, as when the majority of the population has been vaccinated against a disease it reduces the spread.