The Royal Pharmaceutical Society (RPS) has been involved in conversations around a national vaccination strategy, its director for England has revealed.
In an exclusive interview with The Pharmacist last month, RPS director for England James Davies said that the society had been calling for community pharmacists to be able to provide a ‘wraparound service’ to support other vaccination providers.
And he said some of the work that the RPS had been involved with, such as the Policy Exchange’s A Fresh Shot report, was starting to be considered as part of ongoing work on a national vaccination strategy.
He told The Pharmacist that there was ‘lots of great evidence’ about the key role that community pharmacies could play in vaccination.
‘Pharmacists are fantastic at vaccination; they get into communities in a way that the other groups aren't able to. Patients like it, it's convenient, it's accessible – all the things that everyone knows about [community] pharmacy,’ he said.
And he added that pharmacists were ‘able to break down barriers on health inequalities’ by being able to get vaccinations in groups that other vaccination providers would not normally be able to do.
But Mr Davies highlighted the challenges faced by community pharmacy vaccination providers during the rollout of the flu and covid vaccinations, which he said the RPS had raised concerns about.
‘I think it was incredibly difficult and confusing for everyone to understand how that was going to happen, how that was going to work and what everyone [needed] to do. And we've got to make sure that that doesn't happen for next year,’ Mr Davies told The Pharmacist.
Pharmacy bodies have called for 2024/25 winter vaccination planning to include key parties such as community pharmacy ‘at an appropriately early stage’.
And earlier this year, a senior NHS England official told MPs that a national vaccination strategy was expected by the end of this month.
Dr Nikki Kanani, then NHS England’s director of clinical integration and deputy senior responsible officer of the NHS Covid vaccination programme, also suggested that community pharmacies would take on a larger responsibility for vaccinations, describing the sector as ‘one of our great assets’.
Moderna director Stuart Carroll reported last month that discussions around a national vaccine strategy were going well so far.
And he said that a ‘multifaceted strategy’ was necessary to tackle low coverage rates.