Vaccination at pharmacies have become increasingly popular and accessible, yet a recent report revealed that some shots do not end up in an individual's immunization record. Immunization researches are urging the public to make certain that their vaccinations get properly recorded especially as scientists continue to develop a coronavirus vaccine.
The National Center for Immunization Research and Surveillance released a report on pharmacist vaccinations and a lack of proper reporting to the Australian Immunization Register (AIR). A gap in official records may result in an individual's unnecessary repetition of vaccinations and even result in negatively affecting one's eligibility for work and government benefits.
Health authorities will also be hindered from accurately monitoring vaccinations across the entire population. With the COVID-19 vaccine in progress, an accurate record of pharmacy vaccinations is important for people and health authorities alike. In 2017, 0.1% of all vaccinations reported to the Australian Immunization Register were accounted for. Two years later, statistics increase to 2.7%, 95% being the influenza vaccine.
Pharmacists have also been given the authority to provide more types of vaccines to younger people over recent years. Trained pharmacists are allowed to give vaccines for influenza for those 10 years old and over, measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) for ages 16 and over, and diphtheria-tetanus-pertussis (dTpa) for ages 16 and over.
In New South Wales and the Australian Capital Territory, there are pharmacists vaccination standards requiring pharmacists to report vaccinations to the AIR. However, researchers discovered that there had been an under-reporting of these vaccinations.
Pharmacies claimed to have administered over one million influenza vaccinations in 2018 while a record in the AIR recorded ten times more than that amount. A year later, they reported over two million influenza pharmacist vaccines, which was four times more than what was recorded.
Pharmacists' under-reporting of influenza vaccination isn't a big issue since doses are needed per year. Health officials are more concerned about vaccines that are needed in single doses or two doses which are administered at long periods apart such as the MMR vaccine.
The scope of pharmacy vaccinations is also expanding to the travel category, including hepatitis A and cholera. As travel restrictions are slowly being lifted globally, an accurate immunization record is vital. For children, the National Immunization Program may be compromised with incomplete records.
Moreover, gaps in official immunity records could hinder child care and government support under Australia's No Jab No Play, No Jab No Pay policies. Complete records are also basic requirements for certain university courses and jobs, especially when related to health care.
When a COVID-19 vaccine becomes available, Australia will need a mass immunization program to efficiently vaccinate as many people as possible. Health Minister Steven Miles announced that in Queensland, certain protocols will allow pharmacists to administer emergency medications and deliver the coronavirus vaccine during this pandemic.
'That means that communities right across the state, everywhere in the state, will have very quick access to the vaccine when it comes,' said Mr. Miles. Chris Owen, the vice president of the Queensland Pharmacy Guild said that 'Especially those at risk - those who are self-isolating at home, those who are over 70, or have a chronic illness, will be able to receive enhanced healthcare access.'