Advertising of vaccination services

24 March 2016

Immunisation providers, including pharmacists and pharmacies, are reminded that they may only advertise a 'vaccination service' to the public and not the actual vaccines themselves.

Background

Vaccines are generally classified as Schedule 4 (prescription-only) medicines in the Poisons Standard. Paragraph 42DL(1)(f) of the Therapeutic Goods Act 1989 (the Act) prohibits the advertising of Schedule 4 medicines to consumers. The Act does not regulate the advertising of health services. However, where the advertising of health services (including vaccination services) also promotes the use of a therapeutic good, it becomes an advertisement under the Act and subject to the therapeutic goods advertising requirements.

2016 seasonal influenza

When advertising your 2016 'seasonal influenza' (flu) vaccination service, providers may only indirectly reference the vaccine (flu shots) administered as part of the service by identifying it as either "trivalent vaccine" or "quadrivalent vaccine".

Immunisation providers offering private vaccination services should also ensure that its 2016 flu vaccination service advertisements include consumer advice to the effect that flu vaccines are free to those persons from high risk groups identified in the National Immunisation Program. Groups eligible for free vaccines are:

  • People aged 65 years and over
  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged 0 to 5 years
  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people who are aged 10 years and over
  • Pregnant women
  • People aged six months and over with medical conditions such as severe asthma, lung or heart disease, low immunity or diabetes that can lead to complications from influenza

Providers are reminded that any further descriptors used in advertising their 'vaccination service', such as those which might enable consumers to identify the vaccine manufacturers, is likely to breach therapeutic goods advertising legislation for which there are penalties.

Information on the 2016 seasonal influenza vaccines is available at: Immunisation Advisory Bodies.

For further information, including advice on how to advertise health services lawfully, refer to: Advertising health services with Schedule 3, 4 or 8 medicines.