Influenza vaccine – pharmacist administration
The Medicines Regulations 1984 have been amended to change the classification of the influenza vaccine. From 19 May 2022, the classification reads:
Influenza vaccine; except when administered by vaccinators, registered pharmacists, or registered intern pharmacists who have successfully completed the Vaccinator Foundation Course (or any equivalent training course approved by the Ministry of Health) and who comply with the immunisation standards of the Ministry of Health (but excluding vaccinators who have completed the Provisional Vaccinator Foundation Course)
The effect of this change removes the age restriction placed on pharmacist vaccinators to only vaccinate individuals aged 13 years and older.
Pharmacists can vaccinate individuals aged 3 years and older, via the deltoid route of injection, in line with the clinical assessment they undertake as part of their training.
The Ministry is reviewing requirements for pharmacist vaccinators to vaccinate children under the age of 3.
Pharmacist vaccinators must maintain all documentation and evidence that demonstrates their conformance with the Ministry’s Immunisation Standards for Vaccinators, as outlined in the Immunisation Handbook. This includes evidence of your clinical assessment, current APC, CPR and all training courses, including biennial Vaccinator Update Course.
- Provisional Pharmacist Vaccinators can reapply for aProvisional Pharmacist Vaccinators can reapply for authorisation under regulation 44A of the Medicines Regulations 1984. This will enable them to administer the influenza vaccine to people aged 3 years and over. Authorisation under regulation 44A of the Medicines Regulations 1984. This will enable them to administer the influenza vaccine to people aged 3 years and over.
On 15 March 2017, PHARMAC announced that pharmacist vaccinators can provide funded influenza vaccine: Decision to fund the provision of influenza vaccine in pharmacies.
Pharmacist vaccinators must:
- complete the vaccinator requirements as outlined in Appendix 4 of the current online version of the Immunisation Handbook before they start providing immunisation services
- provide services in accordance with the Immunisation Standards in Appendix 3 of the current online version of the Immunisation Handbook
- meet the National Standards for Vaccine Storage and Transportation for Immunisation Providers 2017, including achievement of Cold Chain Accreditation
- use the web application ‘Immunise Now’ to record and send notification to the individual’s general practice within two working days that they have been immunised against influenza
See the Influenza Immunisation Fact Sheet for Pharmacists (docx, 62MB) for more information.
Background to pharmacist vaccination
In 2011 a number of pharmacists applied to become authorised vaccinators. As a result, the Ministry reviewed existing standards and processes to see if they needed to be changed for pharmacists.
After consulting with stakeholders, the Ministry decided that changes to existing standards and processes were unnecessary. Trained pharmacists would be able to vaccinate against influenza. However, they would only be able to provide privately purchased influenza vaccines. This was consistent with the Medicine Regulations and the guidelines in the Immunisation Handbook. The current regulations and standards for pharmacist vaccinators are set out in Appendices Three and Four of the current online version of the Immunisation Handbook.
In December 2012, the Ministry met with stakeholders to review and agree on recommendations for updated pharmacist guidelines. The final recommendations can be found in the meeting minutes: Delivering the Flu Immunisation Programme in 2013.
A discussion paper was sent to stakeholders prior to the meeting: Pharmacist vaccinators delivering flu vaccination in 2013. The paper included:
- draft recommendations for updating the guidelines
- 2012 pharmacy vaccination programme evaluation
- Medsafe’s reclassification of the influenza vaccine (see the Minutes of the May 2012 Medicines Classification Committee Meeting on the Medsafe website).
The Ministry prepared the following documents to support pharmacists for the 2012 Influenza Immunisation Programme:
- Guidelines for pharmacists wanting to offer influenza immunisation in 2012 (PDF, 20 KB)
- Questions and answers – pharmacy vaccinations (PDF, 65 KB)
- Letter to Pharmacist Vaccinator Stakeholders (PDF, 156 KB).
In 2015 and 2016, Waikato DHB ran a pilot programme allowing some community pharmacists to provide funded influenza immunisation to those aged 65 and over.
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