Pharmacist Meeraj Shah says the Covid-19 pandemic has prompted a high number of enquiries about his pneumonia service.
Name of pharmacy: Calverton Pharmacy, Luton.
Name of pharmacist: Meeraj Shah.
Why did you start offering the service?
We’ve been offering the service for one year. It’s another service that we can offer to potentially help with the pressures GPs are facing. There is a NHS vaccination programme for pneumonia, but some people can’t always see their GP because of their working hours for example, so we’re a little more accessible and convenient. We can also be another place where those who would not be vaccinated by the NHS can get the jab, if they are concerned about being protected.
How much did it cost to set up the service?
We bought the PGD as part of a bundle, it was around £365. We’re also planning to invest a little bit in advertising, we’ve got a neon sign to put up that flashes with services we offer, and we may do a leaflet printing drop too.
What, if any, training did you or other team members have to undergo?
There are a few trainings that you need to pass to administer vaccines. There is a practical assessment, which needs to be done every three years and covers you for intramuscular and subcutaneous injections. This enables you to provide flu and travel vaccines, as well as pneumonia. There is also a first aid and CPR online assessment, which we have to do annually.
Our PGD provider, EMIS, also has an assessment that I needed to pass in order to access the PGD, and I completed a CPPE training as well.
In a nutshell, what does the service involve?
I will first agree a time that is convenient for the patient and myself to have the consultation. In the consultation, we go through the risk assessment form, find out the patient’s vaccination history, ask if they have any allergies, and if they’ve had a reaction to any of the ingredients in the vaccine, or to any other vaccines they’ve received in the past. I’ll explain the pneumonia injection, what it is, the brand and the injection route. I’ll also check that there are no exclusions that would mean the patient can’t have the injection.
After administering the vaccine, we routinely send a notification via email to the GP. We also give the patient a certificate to show what has been administered. This will detail the brand and batch number of the vaccine, the expiry, the date of injection and who provided the immunisation – so my name and registration number – and they can keep this for their records.
Are there any opportunities to sell over the counter or prescription products during the consultation or after it?
A slight fever might develop or maybe a bit of pain at the injection site when the patient raises their arm, so they can maybe take some paracetamol for that. But otherwise it’s generally quite a well-tolerated vaccine.
How have patients responded to the service?
Patients have been grateful that they can get the vaccine at a pharmacy. As far as I’m aware, they haven’t had any concerns and have left feeling okay.
Roughly how often each month do you carry out the service?
On average I see one patient each month.
It tends to be a seasonal service – in the winter months – but we’ve had a lot of people asking about it because of Covid-19. So, when I’m able to provide the immunisation again, I’m expecting it to be more popular than it was before.
How much do you charge for the service?
Roughly how much a month do you make from offering the service?
Figures not available.
Would you recommend offering this service to other contractors?
Yes – I think especially now, I’ve had a lot of people asking about it as I’m sure other contractors have. I think it just improves the repertoire of things that we can offer. The pharmacy contract is slowly changing and the NHS does not see as much value in the dispensing of medicines, so any other services that are available to us I feel that we should take up and run with. It is a good service – even though my figures show uptake hasn’t really been that high in the past, I think it will be quite successful in the future.