England’s chief pharmaceutical officer has urged community pharmacy teams to ensure they are vaccinated against the flu ‘as soon as possible’ this winter.
In a letter sent to the Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee (PSNC) yesterday (25 November), Dr Keith Ridge said pharmacy teams have a ‘professional responsibility’ to have the flu vaccine.
Dr Ridge urged the negotiator’s chief executive Simon Dukes to ‘encourage members in patient-facing roles’ to be vaccinated ‘as soon as possible’ to protect themselves and vulnerable patients against flu.
However, PSNC clarified that pharmacy team members are not eligible for the vaccination under the community pharmacy advanced flu vaccination service, unless they are already in one of the eligible patient groups.
It added that pharmacies may offer flu vaccinations to their staff ‘as part of their occupational health arrangements’, however this must be done under a private service at their own expense, as in previous years.
Dr Ridge’s letter said: ‘We have a professional responsibility to do everything possible to protect vulnerable individuals against infection.’
The increased uptake of the flu jab among frontline staff in NHS trusts – from 68.7% in 2017/18 to 70.3% last year – is a ‘significant achievement’, Dr Ridge added.
He said: ‘I would be very pleased to see a similar uptake of flu vaccination in frontline pharmacy staff in other sectors, for example, in community pharmacies, GP practices, urgent care centres, primary care networks and care homes for the 2019/20 season.’
Earlier this month, NHS England confirmed that community pharmacies and GP practices will no longer be barred from sharing flu vaccination stock without a wholesaler licence.