Winter is coming, and so is the flu season. As pharmacists, we know the importance of being prepared for the upcoming flu season. This year, the flu season coincides with the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, making it more critical than ever to take proactive measures to protect your patients and yourself. So, let’s dive into some helpful tips on how to best equip yourself for the cold and flu season this winter!
Stay Up-to-Date on Flu Season Information
Staying informed is the first step in preparing for the flu season. As a pharmacist, it is essential to keep an eye on the flu season start date, which typically runs from May to September. Monitor the severity of the flu by keeping up-to-date with news articles and listening to patients’ experiences. The Australian Government Department of Health provides regular updates on flu activity across the country, including vaccine effectiveness rates. So, make sure to check their website regularly.
As pharmacists, it is also essential to familiarize yourselves with the latest flu vaccine recommendations, including dosage and administration guidelines. Keep track of any changes in vaccine formulations or recommendations and inform your patients accordingly. You can find this information on the ATAGI website.
Vaccination is the best defence against the flu, and pharmacists play a vital role in increasing vaccination rates. In Australia, pharmacists can administer flu vaccines, making it easier for patients to get vaccinated. Pharmacists can also educate patients on the importance of getting vaccinated and answer any questions they may have.
In addition to flu vaccines, pharmacists can also encourage patients to get the COVID-19 vaccine. As COVID-19 is still prevalent, getting vaccinated is crucial to protect against the virus and its variants. Inform your patients about the availability and efficacy of the COVID-19 vaccine and encourage them to get vaccinated or up-to-date with vaccinations as soon as possible. In fact, if a patient comes in for a covid booster, check if they would like to get their annual flu vaccine at the same time!
Get Qualified to Administer Vaccines
To administer vaccines, pharmacists must have the proper qualifications. In Australia, pharmacists can obtain certification to administer vaccines through various programs, including the Immunisation Training Program for Pharmacists offered by the Australian Pharmacy Council. This program provides pharmacists with the training and knowledge necessary to safely and effectively administer vaccines and the appropriate accreditation.
By obtaining certification to administer vaccines, pharmacists can expand their role in patient care and improve patient outcomes. Pharmacists who can administer vaccines can provide a valuable service to their patients and the community by increasing vaccination rates and reducing the spread of infectious diseases. As a locum working within the community, having certification to administer vaccines is a valuable skill that many pharmacies will appreciate. Be sure to update your Locumate profile to include this skill, so prospective owners are aware.
Preparing for the flu season is critical for healthcare professionals, especially pharmacists in Australia. Staying informed, encouraging vaccination, and getting qualified to administer vaccines can help pharmacists better equip themselves for the upcoming flu season. By taking these steps, pharmacists can help protect their patients and communities from the flu and other infectious diseases while expanding their role in patient care. So, let’s roll up our sleeves and get ready to fight the flu and COVID-19 this winter!