Pharmacy contractors can expect to receive £9.58 per flu vaccination this season, despite calls for an increase in payment in light of additional pressures and costs.
Announcing the 2021/22 flu vaccination service specification for pharmacies last night, NHS England said the fee — which increased last year to £10.08 in 2020/21 — will decrease as it did during 2019/20.
The annual service, for which participating pharmacies will receive £9.58 for plus the cost of the vaccine, is due to begin 1 September and is expected to be the largest programme to date.
Alastair Buxton, director of NHS Services at PSNC, has said the lack of funding increase was disappointing.
He said: ‘The committee is disappointed that the hard work undertaken by contractors and their teams last year and the increasing costs they are experiencing in providing services has not been recognised by NHSE&I in an increase in the funding for the service this season.
‘PSNC will continue to make the case to the NHS for increased funding for the service in future years,’ he added.
The service specification also explained that much like last year, pharmacies would be able to administer the flu vaccine outside of the consultation room and elsewhere within the premises so to better support social distancing.
Pharmacies may also provide the vaccine in off-site provisions to manage the flow of patients.
Sites which get contractors to provide off-site flu vaccinations will be able to apply for a contribution towards reasonable additional costs, the service specification also said.
The new service specification also explained that a national protocol could be introduced which would give a specific list of registered and unregistered healthcare professionals — who cannot administer the vaccine under a patient group direction (PGD) — the ability to administer the flu vaccine under the supervision of a pharmacist.
The final decision on authorising a national protocol is made by the health secretary.
During a speech at the 2021 National Pharmacy Association (NPA) Conference last month (5 July), pharmacy minister Joe Churchill said that she wanted pharmacies to administer more flu vaccines this year than last year.
‘Last year [pharmacy] did more flu vaccines than ever before and I want to see even more this year,’ she explained.
NHS England confirmed earlier this year that people aged 50 to 64 are expected to be eligible for a free vaccination again next season, having been included for the first time in 2020.
Figures from the Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee (PSNC) show community pharmacies alone vaccinated 2,617,628 during the 2020/21 programme, over one million more than the sector achieved in the entire flu season last year.
Community pharmacies also exceeded the 2019 flu vaccine record in just two months of the 2020/21 service, vaccinating more than 1.7 million patients by November.