Ayesha Raja, pharmacist manager at Pyramid Pharmacy in Beaconsfield, talks to Saša Janković about running a flu vaccination service.
Service type: Flu vaccination service
Name and location of pharmacy: Pyramid Pharmacy, Beaconsfield
Name of (superintendent) pharmacist: Ayesha Raja
When did you start offering this service?
At least four years ago
Why did you start offering this service?
The majority of our local population around us here in Beaconsfield is aged over 60 so these are exactly the kind of people who can benefit from having a flu vaccination. We also have a GP surgery next door, and they refer patients to us for flu jabs because they can only do a limited number of vaccinations every day themselves. Their system is appointments only – whereas ours is a walk-in clinic – and they frequently have people queueing outside for over an hour to get their jab. This year especially we’ve noticed that our older customers are more concerned about flu than ever before, and we started getting calls from July time with people asking whether they could come in for their flu vaccination.
How much did it cost to set up the service?
What, if any, training did you or other team members have to undergo?
We keep up with regular vaccination training schedules to make sure we are all up to date.
In a nutshell, what does the service involve?
Once our local GP surgery starts sending out flu vaccination invitations to their patients, we begin to see people coming in for our service, because the GP’s system is to contact their patient list in alphabetical order, so people lower down the alphabet hear that it has started and don’t want to wait to get themselves vaccinated.
We do walk-ins only as people often tend to cancel appointments, so this way lets me see as many people as I can throughout the day. We are open 10 hours a day from Monday to Friday, and for four hours on Saturday, and start our flu jabs from mid-September. A big plus for us is that we’ve got plenty of space here to keep stock, plus we have a number of branches locally so we are usually able to get extra flu vaccines from our other stores if it looks like we are running low.
Are there any opportunities to sell OTC or prescription products during or after the consultation?
At this time of year our suppliers normally do winter promotions on a selection of products so we put stands around the store to promote offers on winter remedies. People coming in for flu jabs also often want to purchase other cold and flu products such as Night Nurse, Lemsip and paracetamol to stock up their medicine cabinets at home.
Our other branch in Beaconsfield has been approved to offer Covid booster vaccinations, which would also give us and them the opportunity to talk about flu jabs if appropriate.
How have patients responded to the service?
They love it. They tell us that we are really good at vaccinations and it doesn’t hurt at all, which is why they keep coming back. Even lots of those who get an invitation letter from their GP say they prefer to come to us because it’s so convenient. For our elderly patients in particular we have a couple of seats around the store where they can sit down after their jab as we don’t want to confuse them. Some of them get anxious in case something happens to them after their jab, and they say they feel safe with us.
Roughly how often each month do you carry out the service?
We see at least 40 people a day for the first couple of months.
How much do you charge for the service?
It is free for the over 50s, and we charge £11 for private flu vaccinations.
Would you recommend offering this service to other contractors?
Yes, definitely. It eases the pressure on the GPs and other healthcare professionals, and as pharmacies are available everywhere it’s a great way to really help people in your local area.
Read more from our clinical ambassadors series here.