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Pharmacies offer flu jabs without prescriptions

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Pharmacies offer flu jabs without prescriptions
Photo: USACE Europe District
23:03 CET+01:00
You can now get a vaccination against the flu in pharmacies without a prescription in many Swiss cantons as health authorities aim to boost coverage of the population against a disease that causes 1,500 premature deaths in Switzerland annually.

The level of vaccination is too low, given the risks faced by people who catch the flu, particularly the elderly, the federal office of public health said on Monday.

Between 1.1 and 1.3 million vaccination doses are produced for the Swiss population but many are not used.

So authorities are promoting the availability of vaccinations at pharmacies without prescriptions, following a strategy employed for several years by other countries such as Portugal and Ireland.

The cantons of Neuchâtel, Fribourg, Zurich, Solothurn and Bern have already authorized pharmacies to dispense the anti-flu jabs.

So far 340 pharmacies are able to do the vaccinations, while another 390 are undergoing the necessary training to be able to do so.

The canton of Bern is undertaking a pilot programme for the 2015-2016 year.

In other cantons you can get a vaccination only with a doctor's prescription.

The canton of Zurich took the lead in allowing flu jabs in pharmacies without prescriptions but a legal challenge held up the service until August when an administrative cantonal court ruled against the challenge.

The public health department notes that the flu can be a serious disease for people 65 and over, pregnant women, the chronically sick and infants up to the age of two.

An annual vaccination remains the most effective way to treat against the disease, the department said.

The ideal time for vaccination is the period between mid-October and mid-November.

The health department has published information about the flu in English, as well as in German, French and Italian.  

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