One-third (32%) of adults in England are currently unaware that they can receive their flu vaccine at a pharmacy, a National Pharmacy Association (NPA) survey has revealed. 

The NPA’s October survey of 2,006 adults across the country also found that over a third (39%) of people do not know pharmacies have consultation rooms from which a range of NHS services are provided. 

This comes as pharmacies have been challenged with the Government's biggest flu campaign on record this winter.  

The Government hopes to vaccinate over 35 million people across the UK this flu season, after an increase in the number of eligible groups. This would build on last year’s record-breaking flu vaccination programme, which saw 19 million people vaccinated after aiming for 30 million. 

Over 3.1 million people have already been vaccinated in pharmacies, according to data from PSNC today (1 November).  

Pharmacies across the country have reported an increase in demand for the vaccine, following the public health vaccination campaign and greater awareness around the dangers of Covid-19 combined with other respiratory issues. 

Last week (26 October), during a debate on GP appointment availability, conservative MP Simon Fell told MPs that 'pharmacies and 111 are fantastic resources, but we must make it clear to people why, under what circumstances and how they need to use those routes. 

‘We are not there yet. That responsibility falls on both Government and general practice. Something in the comms space is really important.’ 

The NPA survey, conducted between 8 October and 11 October, also found that many people (39%) want pharmacies to play a greater role in supporting people with mental health.  

In October, NHS England and NHS Improvement (NHSE&I) announced it was considering a further expansion to the New Medicine Service (NMS), which could see the addition of depression as another therapeutic area. 

Meanwhile, NICE published guidance urging pharmacists and other health professionals to ensure their patients are aware of the risks associated with taking antidepressants and other dependence-forming medicines.  

The guidelines, published last month (22 October), advised that patients should also be made aware that support is available for withdrawal from their medication through regular reviews.