Community pharmacists in Scotland will be able to administer the NHS flu vaccine for the first time this winter, following an update to legislation.

This comes after the introduction of the Coronavirus Act 2020, which declared that community pharmacists in Scotland can provide vaccines during the pandemic, including vaccines for the 2020/21 Flu Programme.

However, this amendment is temporary and only grants community pharmacists the opportunity to administer vaccines for two years, a spokesperson from the Scottish government said.

Any ‘remuneration’ for pharmacies who take part in the programme is to be agreed with Community Pharmacy Scotland (CPS), the spokesperson said.

‘The Scottish Government is working with NHS Boards to ensure that they have local delivery models in place to meet the needs of their communities for this season’s flu immunisation programme,’ they added.

Expanded vaccination programme

Pharmacists have been granted the new powers following the government's recent decision to increase the number of people who are eligible for the free vaccine, this includes social care workers, people over the age of 55 and household members of those who are shielding.

Matt Barclay, CPS director, said that ‘due to the extent of the immunisation programme being planned this year there is a realisation that more members of the primary care team will be required to support with flu vaccination this year’.

He added: ‘We understand that local Health Boards will be able to develop plans in line with the needs of their local populations and would expect community pharmacy to be part of any solution required to reach potentially greater numbers of people in communities.’

New career pathway

Earlier this week, the Scottish Government announced that fully-funded independent prescriber (IP) training will be offered to newly-qualified pharmacists who complete the NHS Education for Scotland pharmacy foundation training programme.

A new minor illnesses service, NHS Pharmacy First, has also recently been launched in Scotland, to support patients with common ailments and reduce pressure on other areas of the health service.