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Scottish pharmacies can give NHS flu jabs for first time due to COVID

All community pharmacies in Scotland will this year be able to give out flu vaccinations under a national service, C+D has learned.

This is the first year that Scottish pharmacies will be involved in the national flu vaccination programme, a Scottish government spokesperson told C+D yesterday (August 10).

Pharmacists will be able to administer this year’s vaccine following the introduction of the Coronavirus Act 2020, which grants temporary powers to healthcare professionals to give vaccines during the pandemic.

Those who are not trained to administer the vaccine will be trained to do so, with this being arranged by their local health board, a Scottish government spokesperson told C+D today (August 11).

“The Scottish government is working with NHS boards to ensure that they have local delivery models in place to meet the needs of their communities for this season’s flu immunisation programme,” the spokesperson said.

The service will continue to be delivered from general practices and by a “range of other primary care healthcare professionals”.

Remuneration

The Scottish government will negotiate remuneration for community pharmacies offering the service with Community Pharmacy Scotland (CPS).

CPS director of operations Matt Barclay told C+D yesterday that the organisation “would expect pharmacies to be remunerated in line with other primary care partners, as many of the considerations will be the same for service delivery, particularly at this challenging time”.

The negotiator is working with the Scottish government and health boards on the details of what community pharmacy’s involvement with the service will look like, Mr Barclay added.

“Whole system response”

A few health boards started piloting pharmacy flu vaccines last year, but this is the first year that all community pharmacies in Scotland will be able to participate in the national service.

“Due to the extent of the immunisation programme being planned this year there is a realisation that more members of the primary care team will be required to support with flu vaccination this year,” Mr Barclay said.

While general practice will play an “essential role” in the delivery of the flu vaccination programme, a “whole system response… is required if a successful programme is to be delivered”, Scotland’s chief medical officer Gregor Smith, chief nursing officer Fiona McQueen and chief pharmaceutical officer Rose Marie Parr said in a circular published last week (August 7).

Extended flu service

Eligibility for a free flu jab has been extended this year to households of those who are shielding, “social care staff who deliver direct personal care”, those aged between 55-64 years and, “if vaccine supply allows”, those aged between 50-54 years, according to the circular.

“The Scottish Government has procured additional vaccine to cover increased uptake amongst existing cohorts, in light of COVID-19, as well as to provide vaccine supply to introduce additional eligible groups to the programme,” Dr Smith, Professor McQueen and Professor Parr wrote in the circular.

Will you pharmacy offer the NHS flu vaccination service this year?

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