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The Minister for Health and Aged Care announced free vaccines for aged care and disability homes. Picture: NCA NewsWire/Tertius Pickard.

Free flu vaccines announced for aged care homes

The Health and Aged Care Minister announced a new initiative to expand access to flu vaccinations across aged care homes.

Speaking to the press on Saturday, Mark Butler emphasised the importance of proactive health measures following a surge of flu cases across Australia.

"Although the weather out there is utterly beautiful, it is important to say that flu season already is upon us," Minister Butler said.

"Already, we have about 40 per cent more cases than we had at the same time last year.

"It's important to start talking about the importance of flu vaccinations."

To enhance vaccine accessibility, Minister Butler announced that pharmacists would now be funded to administer free flu vaccines in aged care and disability homes.

"Today, though, I also want to make an additional announcement to that program, and that is that we are now going to pay community pharmacies to be able to visit aged care facilities and disability homes to also deliver National Immunisation Program vaccines," he said.

"Pharmacy proved its worth over the course of the COVID pandemic: 12 million COVID vaccinations were delivered in pharmacy, paid for by the Australian taxpayer.

Despite a 40 per cent increase compared to last year's cases, vaccination rates this year are 25 per cent lower, causing concern due to vulnerability.

In hopes of increasing the vaccination rate, Minister Butler also announced that pharmacists would provide other National Immunisation Program vaccines free of charge to residents.

"We’re doing that, just to continue expanding the role of community pharmacies, well-qualified healthcare professionals, but really importantly, giving that convenience, those cheaper medicines and vaccines to aged care residents and that convenience for aged care providers," he said.

The program will start on Monday, April 29.

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