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Flu service latest: Pharmacies not too impacted by jab delays and trained staff able to administer

Some pharmacies have told C+D that their flu services are not too badly impacted by one supplier’s delays, while APTUK bemoans the “missed opportunity” in only allowing pharmacy technicians to administer flu jabs and not assess patients.

Last week, Seqirus – manufacturer of the QIVc and aQIV flu vaccinations – contacted GPs and pharmacies in England and Wales to warn them of a “one-to-two-week delay of scheduled vaccine delivery”.

“This notice was sent to our customers to allow them to reschedule their influenza vaccination clinics,” a spokesperson for Seqirus told C+D.


Not too much impact on pharmacy services


Some GPs reportedly had to cancel their flu jab bookings. However, Nat Mitchell, pharmacist and director of JWW Allison in Cockermouth, Cumbria, told C+D he is not too concerned about the impact the reported delivery delays could have on his pharmacy’s service. He is expecting his delivery from Seqirus this Friday (September 10).

Usmaan Hafiz, pharmacist at Kepple Lane Dispensary and Garstang Medical Practice, Preston, told C+D that, having received the communication from Seqirus, he was initially concerned about the impact the vaccine delays could have on patients.

But fortunately, he experienced just a “short delay” of 24 hours, he said.

A spokesperson for Boots told C+D: “Our flu vaccine supply is expected to arrive on time, and we do not anticipate any changes to pre-booked appointments starting September 17.”

The multiple is already seeing “strong demand” for this season’s flu vaccination service, “with over one third of all our available appointments already reserved for pre-booked patients”, the spokesperson added.


In a statement to C+D today (September 8), Seqirus assured that “supplies are beginning to flow through to GP and pharmacy customers in England and Wales. We continue to work hard to ensure that all delays are limited to one to two weeks”.


“Deliveries will continue to be confirmed a week in advance of dispatching”.


Meanwhile, vaccines minister Nadhim Zahawi, said that Seqirus’s flu vaccine delays “will not delay the overall flu vaccination programme at all”.

“We are being incredibly ambitious on flu vaccines…with a big, big programme,” he told the House of Commons on Monday (September 6).

The delivery issues are with just “one of the suppliers”, he added, and advised “not to, as a knee-jerk reaction, talk about flu vaccine shortages”.


Pharmacy staff can administer flu vaccinations


For the first time in the 2021/22 national flu vaccination programme, pharmacy staff will be able to prepare and administer flu jabs under the service’s national protocol.

Public Health England (PHE) told the Pharmaceutical Journal yesterday (September 7) that while pharmacy technicians will be able to undertake stages 2, 3 and 4 of the national protocol, they may not undertake stage 1 – the patient assessment. 

*PHE later confirmed to C+D that other pharmacy staff, including dispensers, will also be able to prepare and administer the vaccines “providing they are competent to do so and appropriately supervised”. They will not be permitted to complete the whole process either.

Source: National protocol for inactivated influenza vaccine, Public Health England, September 2021



Need to empower pharmacy technicians


Liz Fidler, president of the Association of Pharmacy Technicians UK (APTUK), said omitting pharmacy technicians from the whole flu vaccination process, is a “missed opportunity at a time of need”.

“From procuring, supply, storage, reconstituting, training health care professionals (HCPs) and administering the vaccine, the profession has embraced the opportunity to use its knowledge and skills for the benefit of patients and communities,” she said.

“The irony of current legislation is that even though a pharmacy technician can competently carry out the above and often are training other HCPs, they are not on the list of HCPs who can administer and supply a medicine or medicinal product under a patient group direction (PGD).

“This inhibits the profession as under the national protocol consent needs to be obtained from an HCP on the PGD list. This can mean the process is not as straight forward as it can be and not an effective use of another HCP's time,” she stressed.

“The profession is able to contribute more and at this time of global need should be empowered to do so.”

*This article was updated on September 13 to clarify that trained and supervised pharmacy staff are also able to prepare and administer flu vaccinations.

Will you be inviting pharmacy staff to help you administer flu vaccinations this season?

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