The popularity of this vaccination service has rocketed in recent years. It’s time for community pharmacy to get in on the action, says Laura Reed, head of professional development at Numark
Key learning points
Under the NHS, Meningitis B vaccinations are now
routinely offered to children at two, four and 12 months of age. There is, however, an opportunity to offer a private service for those who have missed the vaccinations.
As well as younger children, there is also another potential group of customers: college and university students.
Below are four key points to consider if you are looking to set up a private Meningitis B vaccination service.
1 Conduct local market research
Before beginning any service, you should consider if it will be viable resource. The first thing to determine is if there will be local demand. You could consider surveying your potential customers and asking if this is a service they would be interested in.
Don’t forget to also pay attention to your business plan. You need to think about the price you are going to be charging, taking into account the purchase price of the vaccine as well as training and any other ongoing costs.
2 Consider the pharmacy environment
Once you decide to go ahead with the service, you need to ensure your pharmacy environment gives the right impression to customers. In particular, think about your consultation room should look like a professional, clean and uncluttered area with adequate space. After all, this is where you will be delivering the service and customers will expect to see an area that looks fit for a clinical service.
3 Factor in any training required both for you and your wider team
The vaccination will be administered by you so it’s important that you have the correct training. As well as the basics of injection technique, any training should also include a focus on paediatrics as the vaccine will potentially administered to those aged two years and over.
Numark vaccination training includes the paediatric element as standard. You should also complete disease awareness training specifically around Meningitis B. Finally, as the vaccine is a prescription-only medicine you need to ensure you have access to a patient group direction or other means of supplying the vaccine.
Although it is the pharmacist who will be giving the vaccinations, in order to deliver an effective service you need a whole team effort. To do this, you must ensure everyone understands the importance of
the service to both the pharmacy and the customer as well as their role in making it a success. For example, they may be involved in:
• Answering questions from customers.
• Booking appointments.
• Promoting the service.
Therefore, you need to consider how you will train and engage your team and the key messages you want to get across.
4 Marketing the service
Another key factor in the success of the service is effective marketing. As with all new services, how will you get the message out to your customers — both current and new?
First you need to consider any in-store marketing, such posters and leaflets or other point-of-sale materials, displayed in your pharmacy. If you are a healthy living pharmacy, also consider running
a health awareness event around Meningitis and use this as a chance to promote the service.
Next, think about external marketing. There may be potential customers who live in your area that would benefit from the service, but don’t visit your pharmacy. You could look at putting posters and leaflets in areas such as GP surgeries, libraries and community centres.
You should also consider drafting letters to parents and asking local nurseries or mother and child groups if they would hand out leaflets on your behalf. You could even go along to a local mother and child group to give a talk on Meningitis awareness and promote the service.