Boost For Pharmacists For Flu Season

Department of Health

The Albanese Government is protecting Australians in aged care and disability homes by funding pharmacists for the first time to provide free flu and other National Immunisation Program (NIP) vaccines at the homes.

The National Immunisation Program Vaccinations in Pharmacy Program (NIPVIP) ensures more Australians have convenient and affordable access to lifesaving vaccines with no out of pocket expenses.

The new support for pharmacists will commence on Monday 29 April ensuring some of our most vulnerable Australians are given free vaccines to protect them from COVID-19 and influenza ahead of winter.

From 1 July 2024 NIPVIP payments will also be indexed in line with MBS indexation. Funding for the offsite expansion of the Program will be available until June 2026, with continuation subject to review.

Given the unpredictable nature of the flu it is important Australians book an appointment to receive their annual flu vaccine. Everyone 6 months or over is recommended to get a flu vaccine each year, and flu vaccines can be given with COVID-19 vaccines.

Reported cases of the flu to date in Australia are 40% higher than this time last year.

Last year 39 people died from the flu in Australia – and of these, 9 were children less than 16 years of age. This was higher than the number of influenza-associated deaths in children in 2022 and in many pre-COVID-19 pandemic years.

Although fewer Australians protected themselves against influenza with a vaccine last year, data indicates last year’s flu vaccines were highly effective. For those who were vaccinated, they reduced the risk of hospitalisation with flu by 68% and the need to visit a GP due to flu by 64%.

The flu vaccine is free through the NIP for people most at risk of complications, including:

  • children aged 6 months to less than 5 years
  • pregnant women at any stage of pregnancy
  • First Nations people aged 6 months and over
  • people aged 65 years and over

Appointments can be booked with your doctor or general practice, at community health centres, Aboriginal health services, and pharmacies.

Quotes attributable to Minister Butler:

“Community pharmacists play a vital role in our healthcare system – and they will play an even bigger role by administering free, lifesaving vaccines to eligible patients living in aged care homes and disability homes.

“We know vaccines can save lives and prevent us from becoming seriously unwell.

“I urge all Australians to book in and get flu and COVID vaccines to protect themselves before we hit winter.”

/Media Release. View in full here.