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Funeral director connects pharmacies and frontline workers in need of vaccines

frontline workers

By Isabel Shaw
Reporter

19 Oct 2021

A funeral director is helping to connect key workers in the private sector and volunteers on the front line who require essential vaccinations with community pharmacies who can provide them.  

David Wightman, who works as a funeral director and spends his free time as a lifeboat volunteer, launched the service last month after discovering there was a low vaccination rate among private key workers.  

The service, Prokey, aims to boost levels of vaccination among frontline staff by connecting funeral directors, private care sector workers, lifeboat crews, first aiders and emergency service workers with local community pharmacies.  

Mr Wightman told The Pharmacist that the service came about after he struggled to ensure his funeral home staff we properly vaccinated after NHS England removed the responsibility for providing occupational health vaccinations from general practice.    

Funeral staff are required to be vaccinated against hepatitis B and Tetanus if their work puts them at risk of contact with blood or bodily fluids. Employers are responsible for ensuring staff are vaccinated.  

‘At one point we had a group of staff who had not had any sort of provision of hepatitis B at all,’ he told The Pharmacist

Around the same time, he noticed there were similarly low levels of vaccine uptake among his lifeboat volunteer team, for whom the hepatitis B vaccine is also required.  

After speaking to funeral directors and lifeboat teams across the country, he realised that low uptake of vaccination was a widespread issue, and that many key workers who work in the private sector and volunteer organisations were ‘managing but struggling’ to vaccinate their staff.  

Mr Wightman estimated from his research that about half of all funeral directors in the country have had their vaccinations.  

Karen Gordon, superintendent pharmacist at Davidsons Chemists, which provides the vaccination service in all 44 branches across Scotland, said: ‘Our collaboration with Prokey will provide the communities our pharmacies serve with cost-effective private vaccination services in addition to the clinical services our branches already provide’.  

She added: ‘we hope our collaboration with Prokey also helps to highlight the wider value community pharmacies play in providing the public with access to convenient local healthcare services.’ 


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