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Queensland boosts flu shot coverage

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An extra 70 pharmacies in Queensland’s regions will help administer flu shots as part of a pilot scheme linked to the National Immunisation Program this winter.

The measure follows free vaccination clinics conducted in Sydney and Melbourne.

Health Minister Yvette D’Ath says the additional measures will ensure access to the vaccine for Queensland’s most at-risk as the cold season approaches.

“National Immunisation Program funded influenza vaccines have been previously only available in Queensland through approved GPs and community clinics,” she said on Saturday.

“The pilot will enable select pharmacists to apply to become registered NIP providers for the influenza vaccine.”

Once approved, people aged 65 and older will be able to get their shots from them.

Ms D’Ath says the elderly have been prioritised as they are at increased risk of complications from influenza.

The pharmacies have been invited to participate based on several factors including their ability to already administer COVID-19 shots, location beyond main population centres and having more than 20 per cent of their service area population aged 65 or over.

The program will run throughout this year’s flu season, typically from June to September with the peak usually in August.

Now is considered the best time to receive the jab to ensure strongest protection.

Research commissioned by vaccine advocacy group the Immunisation Coalition found just 35% of adults under 65 planned to have a flu shot this year, despite 73% expecting this season to be worse than 2020 and 2021.

The group hosted free vaccination clinics at Melbourne and Sydney town halls on Friday with support from the St Vincent’s Mobile Immunisation and Health Service.

With a severe flu season likely to exacerbate ongoing workforce and supply chain issues, the Australian College of Nursing has also called on Australians to ensure their vaccinations are up to date.

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