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Flu service: ‘I believe this is something we have to do as pharmacists’

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By Saša Janković

26 Oct 2020

Sid Dajani, owner, superintendent pharmacist and IP at Wainwrights Chemists in Bishopstoke, talks to Saša Janković about running a flu vaccination service.

Service type: Flu vaccination service – NHS and private.

Name of pharmacy: Wainwrights Chemists, Bishopstoke.

Name of pharmacist: Sid Dajani.

Why did you start offering this service?

Our flu vaccination has been running for 10 years, and seven years ago I added in shingles and pneumococcal vaccine services as well.

I vaccinate about two thousand customers against flu every year – though this year it’ll be a lot more than that – and the simple answer is because I see it as part of our job as pharmacists.

I decided to add in the shingles and pneumococcal vaccinations because when I did the flu jabs I’d always ask the patient, where appropriate, if they were up to date with these, and if not or if they couldn’t remember I’d advise them to see their GP. I noticed that some were coming back saying their GP didn’t offer these, so now I tell them that if they can’t have it done at their surgery I can do it for them privately as an IP with a PGD.

We offer the pneumococcal and shingles vaccinations all year round. With pneumococcal infections being secondary infections of Covid-19, I’m recommending those who need it have it sooner rather than later, to protect themselves but also their family, friends and colleagues.

In a nutshell, what does the service involve?

Both our NHS and private flu services are walk-ins, but people can book an appointment online or over the phone if they want to. If customers can’t get their pneumococcal or shingles vaccines from their GP then ours are appointment only, as I have to order them in.

How much did it cost to set up the service?

I’ve been doing this for so long that I can’t remember. I have to complete the CPD so there are training costs, and the PGDs are about £30 a year, plus there’s a cost on our insurance to take into account.

What, if any, training did you or other team members have to undergo?

Most of the training for me is around the flu vaccination, and then I added on the modules for shingles and pneumococcal vaccinations. My staff ask the customers all the questions about flu to pre-populate PharmOutcomes and other forms, so I have to make sure they know how to do that.

Are there any opportunities to sell over the counter or prescription products during the consultation or after it?

Absolutely – and not just OTC products, but services too. For example, whenever I do an NMS I always ask if the person has had a flu vaccine, so these go hand in hand. It’s all about making every interaction count, which can lead on to recommending other services such as weight management and smoking cessation. This morning I was doing a flu jab for a chap who started telling me he was having really bad hay fever, but what he was taking for it wasn’t helping. I was able to give him something else and recommend he see his doctor for something stronger if it didn’t work.

How have patients responded to the service?

We have definitely found a local unmet need for the shingles and pneumococcal services. In fact, as part of the PCN work we are developing at the moment we would like to be able to offer shingles and pneumococcal as an enhanced local service – and it would be great if this could start as soon as possible because diseases and infections don’t stop.

Roughly, how often each month do you carry out the service?

We do about two thousand flu jabs in the whole season, and this year we know it’s going to get busier because of Covid. Even though we offer a walk-in service we never had flu ‘waiters’, but this year we have queues of 4-5 people every day, especially in the morning and early afternoons, because more people want the vaccination. With shingles we do about 50-60 a year, and pneumococcal is also increasing because of Covid so we are anticipating about 100 this year.

How much do you charge for the service?

Figures not available.

Roughly, how much a month do you make from offering the service?

The sum is basically the cost of the vaccine plus consultation fee and a 60% mark-up. I would say the cost of running these services is definitely outweighed by the return you get, but you’ve got to be willing to do it for at least five years before it starts really paying you back.

Would you recommend offering this service to other contractors?

It’s not about recommending it; I believe this is something we have to do. Community pharmacy always says we are the public health experts, which means offering these services is our job.


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