PSNC is in discussions with the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) to give pharmacies ‘priority call’ on extra flu vaccine stock as soon as it starts to arrive.
The Government has obtained additional supplies of flu vaccines as part of its response to Covid-19, but these will not be delivered until November and December, PSNC said.
The body said it is discussing with DHSC how extra stock will be distributed to community pharmacies, ‘to ensure that it is available as quickly as possible to meet patient demand’.
PSNC figures show community pharmacists have vaccinated over 650,000 NHS patients in the first four weeks of the flu service – three times the number vaccinated in the same period last year.
Contractors and LPCs have reported a massive increase in public demand for flu vaccination, the body said, and in some cases this has been ten times the usual demand.
Some pharmacies have also reported using all of their ordered vaccines in the first few days and weeks of September, despite having increased their order from last year, PSNC said.
Simon Dukes, PSNC chief executive, said: ‘Community pharmacy teams have been the first out of the blocks in the NHS’ effort to vaccinate a record number of people against flu. This is yet another excellent example of how community pharmacy can respond to the needs of patients and the NHS, even in the midst of a global pandemic.
‘Demand is clearly being driven by changes in patient’s attitudes towards the risk of respiratory infections as a result of the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic. However the accelerated start to the service this year does mean many pharmacies are temporarily out of stock of vaccine before further supplies arrive as part of staged deliveries.
He added: ‘We are discussing with DHSC the best approach for distribution of the vaccines in the Government stockpile to community pharmacies and we are pushing for the sector to have a priority call on the stock as soon as it starts to arrive in November.’