MMR vaccine in pharmacies ‘a symbolic gesture’: GP

Neelima Choahan

15/08/2018 2:45:46 PM

A prominent GP has questioned the Victorian Government’s plan to allow pharmacies to dispense the measles-mumps-rubella vaccine.

Victorian Health Minister Jill Hennessy believes making the MMR vaccine available in pharmacies will ensure ‘younger Victorians can get the vaccinations they need’.
Victorian Health Minister Jill Hennessy believes making the MMR vaccine available in pharmacies will ensure ‘younger Victorians can get the vaccinations they need’.

The Victorian Government recently announced that the measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccination would soon be accessible at the local pharmacy, without the need to first visit a doctor.  
The Government says the move will better protect Victorians.
But Dr Evan Ackermann, GP and Chair of the RACGP Expert Committee – Quality Care, told newsGP the decision represents ‘a symbolic gesture’ rather than real health services delivery.
‘High vaccination rates for MMR obtained by Victorian GPs mean that this initiative will have virtually no public health impact or benefit whatsoever,’ Dr Ackermann said.
‘The Victorian Government should have consulted GPs before taking the step. There is no clinical justification as to why this decision has been taken.’

Evan-Ackermann-Hero.jpgDr Evan Ackermann believes pharmacy should work in collaboration with general practice, rather than implementing strategies that ‘fragment GP systems that work well’. 
Dr Ackermann said Victoria, largely thanks to the efforts of GPs, has high vaccination rates and an enviable record in vaccine-preventable conditions and hospitalisations, but the State Government’s latest move may have a detrimental effect.
‘As we have found with influenza vaccination, the retail pharmacy sector is using vaccination as a business opportunity to sell complementary therapies,’ he said. ‘Marketing of nonsense “immune-boosting” complimentary therapies is commonly associated with influenza vaccinations at pharmacies. 
‘This continued “coke-and-fries” approach has ensured pharmacy vaccination becoming a marketing ploy, not a public health initiative.
‘This “McPharmacy” model being promoted, where vaccination is used to drive foot traffic and complementary medication sales, should not be supported by the Government.’
The latest move follows the Victorian Government making the flu shot and whooping cough vaccination available in pharmacies in 2016. According to the Government, more than 42,000 Victorians have accessed both at their local pharmacy since the introduction of the program.  
Victorian Health Minister Jill Hennessy said nearly 90% of Victorians live just a short walk or drive from a pharmacy.
‘We’re making the measles vaccination available at pharmacies, making it free for those who need it most, and ensuring younger Victorians can get the vaccinations they need – without needing an appointment with a GP,’ Ms Hennessy said.
Dr Ackermann raised concerns over the Minister’s rationale for promoting pharmacy rather than a person’s usual doctor.
‘The Minister seems to be deliberately advertising pharmacy in preference to a patient seeing their local GP, a place where a patient record is kept and vaccination history compiled,’ he said. ‘Quite simply, a pharmacist would not know the lifelong vaccination history of a patient, and having a My Health Record would not help, either. For pharmacy, it would be a stab in the professional dark.
‘We constantly hear calls from pharmacy for better collaboration with general practice, yet, in reality, they continually work to fragment GP systems that work well.’

measles-mumps-rubella MMR pharmacy vaccination

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