NSW Opposition Leader Luke Foley has announced that a Labor Government will allow - for the first time - properly-trained pharmacists to administer flu vaccinations to healthy adults.
This will improve the general health in the community; reduce doctor visits and hospital admissions; and improve productivity in the State's economy.
Under Labor's policy, trained pharmacists would be allowed to deliver influenza vaccinations to healthy people aged between 18 and 65 for a standard charge.
The influenza vaccine is generally considered to be up to 90% effective in preventing influenza illness for six to 12 months in healthy adults.
Currently in NSW, flu immunisations can only be administered by doctors and nurses.
All pharmacists administering vaccinations will be required to complete a two-day training course accredited by NSW Health. The training will include first aid, CPR and administration of adrenalin and managing anaphylaxis. Participating pharmacists will also be required to hold appropriate professional indemnity insurance and to have a private consultation area on their premises.
This will complement free flu vaccines under the National Immunisation Program provided by GPs to high-risk groups including all people 65 and older, pregnant women, people with chronic conditions and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders aged 15 and older.
"This is a new approach. It is a practical and sensible approach to reducing health costs and protecting the community. Overseas studies have found that pharmacist provided vaccinations were effective in targeting men who did not usually take the preventative measure," Mr Foley said.
"Allowing trained pharmacists to administer adult flu vaccines is a preventative health measure.
"The public health imperative is that we must get more people vaccinated - and pharmacists offer a safe, convenient and cost-effective way of delivering that outcome.
"Since their introduction, vaccinations have saved millions of lives and influenza is the classic vaccine-preventable disease.
"In addition, the best way to protect vulnerable groups such as the elderly and pregnant women is to vaccinate the healthy people around them."
Mr Foley added that last year, NSW Health reported 15,700 cases of influenza strain A and 2,500 cases of influenza strain B.
Nationally, influenza accounts for 18,404 hospitalisations and up to 3457 deaths a year - and tackling the disease costs the Australian health system $115 million.
The NSW Business Chamber estimates that the flu season can cost the NSW economy more than $482 million.
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