Australia needs you to get your flu vaccination!
It will be very important this year to ensure Australians are vaccinated against the flu, with the major concern that the influenza peak will occur amongst the COVID-19 outbreak. This will potentially cause significant stress for the health system if not controlled effectively.
Australia Needs You Vaccinating!
This upcoming flu season will no doubt be incredibly large this year with the major concern that the influenza peak will occur amongst the COVID-19 outbreak and this will potentially cause enormous disruptions and chaos if not controlled effectively.
Some patients may be more pre-occupied thinking about coronavirus right now, as compared to the flu. The novel coronavirus or COVID-19 and influenza are both viral infections and are both serious conditions. Although the flu vaccine will not protect you against COVID-19 and there is no vaccine currently available for COVID-19, it is still important for you to be vaccinated against the flu as the flu virus will still be active and can have serious consequences.
Getting vaccinated also helps reduce the burden of the flu in the community via herd immunity. Herd immunity and reducing the risk of the flu viral infection is critical during this time when we are under the threat of the novel coronavirus. Everyone needs to do their part to protect the community and help protect people who are more vulnerable and at risk of complications from these diseases.
- On the larger scale, it could mean that fewer people come down with the flu and present with symptoms such as fever and cough, which may be difficult to differentiate from symptoms of COVID-19.
- Less hospitalizations from the flu also keeps the hospital beds free for those that may need it due to the COVID-19 outbreak.
Pharmacy Vaccination Guidelines
- Ensure that your pharmacies have a dedicated clinic room for vaccinations only to prevent contamination.
- Ensure patients are screened TWICE.
Firstly, for entry into the Pharmacy for COVID-19 symptoms and secondly, during normal pre-screening but use an extra laminated form with “STOP. Do not vaccinate if you have these symptoms – fever, sore throat, dry cough, shortness of breath, fatigue, difficulty breathing.” Ideally measure the temperature of patients to determine presence of fever.
Certain states and territories (including, but not limited to, NSW and ACT) still require written consent from the patient, as evident in their respective Pharmacist Vaccination Standards. For protection measures, consider using disposable pens and that hygiene and cleaning protocols are rigorously enforced.
Ensure social distancing procedures are in place:
- Minimise the time spent in the consultation room/area by conducting pre-screening assessments in another area of the pharmacy where a distance of 1.5m can be maintained.
- Only allow the patient who is receiving the vaccination into the vaccination area at one time.
- Ensure vaccination room is free of clutter and only the necessary items for vaccination are in there.
- Clean and disinfect room after each patient.
- Wash hands before and after each vaccination.
- Only have one dedicated vaccinating person for the day.
- Abide by current Department of Health and Immunisation Handbook recommendations on timing of vaccinations.
- Before touching a patient, before cleaning/aseptic procedures, after body fluid exposure/risk, after touching a patient, and after touching patient surroundings) is followed when the patient is in clinic room.
- Consider: if you are going to advertise vaccinations are in stock can you manage the demands on workflow?
- Wearing a mask and gloves when vaccinating is recommended by the International Pharmaceutical Federation.