La Trobe University students doubled as pin cushions yesterday, becoming the state’s first pharmacy undergraduates to learn how to vaccinate patients.
More than 2000 community pharmacists across Australia have trained to give injections, a process only approved in Victoria last November.
While all other states only allow pharmacists to deliver influenza vaccines, Victorian service providers can also safeguard people against whooping cough.
La Trobe clinical pharmacy lecturer Richard Summers said the program made immunisations more accessible and had already improved rates of protection in the community.
About 35,000 adults were vaccinated against influenza in Australian pharmacies this year.
“If our students have the confidence and skills to immunise when they graduate, it will make their transition to the workplace that much easier,” Mr Summers said.
After practicing their new skill on mannequins, students then turned their saline-filled syringes on one another. But student Hassan El-Saafien said was not at all scared by the prospect.
“I love learning about all of the drugs, their side effects and what can use,” he said.
Mr El-Saafien, who hoped to begin work in the Bendigo region next year, also said providing vaccinations would also allow pharmacists to build closer connections with their customers.
Pharmaceutical Society of Australia regional representative Katherine Hancy oversaw the vaccination training on Thursday and said it was important community members recognised the wealth of knowledge people in her profession possessed.
“The health system is under incredible stress everywhere, so pharmacists taking some burden off by doing vaccinations is a good opportunity,” she said.
“If you’re time-poor, and a pretty active adult, it’s not on the top of your mind to go and get your flu vaccination, but now you can just pop in to your local pharmacy.”
Ms Hancy said vaccination was a proven way to prevent disease and had even eradicated several dangerous illnesses.
Survey pricks up attention
The City of Greater Bendigo is reviewing its immunisation services, asking residents with young children to complete a survey about their experience with injections.
Community wellbeing acting director Michael Smyth said health organisations, as well as those who have not sought out the city’s immunisation services, would also be consulted.
The survey asks participants whether the current times and locations of immunisation services are convenient, as well as why people might opt to visit a GP instead of council providers.
Immunisation rates in the local government area are higher than the state average, Mr Smyth said, explaining the city wanted to increase those rates to prevent the spread of disease.
More than 93 per cent of Bendigonian children aged five and under are fully vaccinated, National Health Performance Authority has shown.
That figure is as low as 87 percent in Castlemaine, Heathcote and Kyneton, the latter postcode having one of the lowest vaccination rates in the state.
Visit https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/N79FBXP until September 30 to complete the survey.