Contractors are able to give the flu vaccine to patients ‘in any appropriate space within the pharmacy’ this winter, according to the new influenza vaccination service specification.

NHS England & Improvement (NHS&I) published the new guidance on 28 August, just days the programme was set to launch (1 September).

Contractors may vaccinate patients anywhere in the pharmacy, as long as patients still have access to a consultation room if they request it.

The new specification did not mention how much contractors will be paid for providing the vaccines this year. Instead, it said that ‘a fee payment will be made in line with the Drug Tariff determination per administered dose of vaccine,’ but did not provide further details on what this fee would be.

In response, Alastair Buxton, Director of NHS Services at PSNC reassured contractors that the body is still negotiating what funding will be paid to contractors providing the service.

‘It is frustrating that we are not able to confirm the funding details for the service so close to its launch, but PSNC believes that continuing to push HM Government and the NHS to provide the right funding for contractors is the right thing to do,’ he said.

The guidance announced a number of other key changes for the 2020/21 flu programme.

Key changes include the lifting of restrictions on off-site vaccination. Contractors can now vaccinate people in car parks, sports stadiums, local village town halls and marquees. They will also be able to vaccinate care home staff within the care home setting.

In addition, contractors will no longer be required to gain written consent from patients they are vaccinating - verbal consent will suffice.

‘The move to a verbal consent model is a significant administrative improvement for pharmacies and will support the safe delivery of this service in the pandemic’, Mr Buxton said.

PSNC has agreed with the Department of Health and NHS&I that the requirement for contractors to notify regional teams before undertaking vaccinations off-site be removed. The three bodies have also agreed that pharmacy teams do not need to contact the patient’s GP in advance of vaccinating a patient in their home or care home.

‘PSNC is pleased to have been able to agree to a range of new flexibilities which will hopefully help pharmacy teams to achieve significant growth in the number of vaccinations administered, in line with the aspirations of the Government and NHS,’ Mr Buxton added.

Earlier this week, the Pharmacist reported that some pharmacy teams are concerned they may see patients go to off-site provisions to get their flu vaccine, instead of visiting community pharmacy.