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COVID-19: Hancock looks to widen scope of who can give vaccines

The Government is developing a policy to expand the number of healthcare professionals who can give vaccines as part of its COVID-19 response.

Speaking to journalist Robert Peston earlier this week (July 15), health secretary Matt Hancock said he is “expanding who can legally vaccinate to make sure that [it is] not just GPs, but also technicians and nurses and pharmacists.”

The Department of Health and Social Care (DH) was unable to clarify whether Mr Hancock was referring to pharmacy technicians but told C+D yesterday (July 16) that the details of this policy are still being developed.

Mr Hancock added in his interview that “pharmacists have got a massive role to play” in the delivery of a COVID-19 vaccine once it is available.

The government will “use all the assets that we’ve got available” to ensure those with the “highest clinical need” get vaccinated against COVID-19 as soon as a vaccine is found.

Healthcare workers are among those who will get early access to the vaccine, “because they are much more exposed than others”, Mr Hancock added.

Include pharmacy technicians

Pharmacy technicians are not on the list of health professionals who can supply or administer a medicine under patients group directions (PGD), which is operated by the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency and includes pharmacists.

The Association of Pharmacy Technicians (APTUK) – which has been lobbying for pharmacy technicians to be added to the list since 2017 – told C+D yesterday that it hopes Mr Hancock was referring to the profession in his speech.

“Including pharmacy technicians on the PGD list will enable a range of services to be delivered in response to COVID-19 and beyond,” APTUK president Liz Fidler said.

“It will be a missed opportunity for pharmacy services and patient care if pharmacy technicians are not included. With relation to vaccinations, the time is now to enable accredited training and governance processes to be embedded for future immunisation campaigns,” she added.

Last month, APTUK said that pharmacy technicians would be an “invaluable resource” in the immunisation process once a COVID-19 vaccine is found.

Earlier this week (July 13), Mr Hancock told pharmacists at a virtual National Pharmacy Association (NPA) conference that pharmacies will play “an important role” in this year’s flu vaccination programme, which is expected to be the “biggest in history”.

“Community pharmacies will also have a crucial role to play in ensuring as many people as possible receive injections for any future COVID-19 vaccine,” an NPA spokesperson said.

Do you think pharmacy technicians should be added to the PGD list?

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