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Government urged to let pharmacy technicians give COVID jabs under PGD

The government should “accelerate plans” to add pharmacy technicians to the list of healthcare professionals able to administer COVID-19 vaccinations under a patient group direction (PGD), pharmacy bodies have said.

In an open letter to the health secretary Sajid Javid, published yesterday (December 13), the Company Chemists’ Association (CCA) and Association of Pharmacy Technicians UK (APTUK) said this “simple change” to legislation “will allow pharmacy technicians to do more while also helping to boost capacity in community pharmacy”.

The pharmacy bodies’ call follows Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s announcement on Sunday (December 12) that the COVID-19 booster campaign would be accelerated further with the aim of offering all adults a booster dose by the end of the year.

The Department of Health and Social Care (DH) has been approached for comment.


All barriers to meet PM’s ambition must be removed


In the joint letter, the CCA and APTUK cautioned that “ensuring members of the public ‘get boosted now’ and [that all adults are offered a booster jab by the New Year will require a monumental national effort".  

They added: “Now is the time to ensure the outdated legislation is changed, and all barriers to meeting the Prime Minister’s ambitions are removed”.

APTUK president Liz Fidler added that allowing pharmacy technicians to deliver COVID-19 vaccinations will provide “optimum patient and community benefit”.

Meanwhile, CCA chief executive officer Malcolm Harrison said that “community pharmacy stands ready to turbo-charge the rollout of the COVID-19 booster, having already delivered 15 million vaccines so far and a record-breaking number of flu jabs this winter.

“The government now needs to ensure that community pharmacy has the capacity and capability to do so.

 “We remain committed to working with government to ensure this happens,” he added.


What does the current legislation say?


The list of healthcare professionals who can supply and administer medicines under a PGD is operated by the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) and currently includes pharmacists, but not pharmacy technicians.

But, for the first time under the 2021/22 flu vaccination service’s national protocol, trained pharmacy staff, including pharmacy technicians, can undertake stages 2, 3 and 4 of the service – vaccine preparation, vaccine administration and record keeping.

However, they may not undertake stage 1 – the patient assessment.

Earlier this month, in response to a tweet calling for the legislation to be changed to allow pharmacy technicians to work under a PGD, pharmacy minister Maria Caulfield confirmed “we are looking at this”.

In June 2020, APTUK called for pharmacy technicians’ inclusion on the MHRA list, to help tackle COVID-19. But at the time, the DH responded that adding pharmacy technicians to the list would require an amendment to the Human Medicines Regulations 2012 act.

The act applies across the UK, but pharmacy technicians are regulated professionals only in England, Scotland and Wales – not in Northern Ireland – and this presents a complication, it said. 

Are you/your pharmacy involved in the COVID-19 vaccination programme? Share your experiences on the C+D Community



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