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Pharmacists no longer required to take flu jab refresher every three years

Pharmacists who administer flu vaccines will no longer need to undertake face-to-face refresher training on vaccine technique every three years, the Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee (PSNC) has announced. 

Instead, they will be able to polish up their injection technique and knowledge of basic life support periodically, PSNC confirmed following the publication of NHS England and NHS Improvement’s (NHSE&I) service specification for the 2022/23 flu season.

It will now be up to contractors and vaccinators “to consider when it would be appropriate to attend refresher training”, it said.

They can also assess “if [the] ongoing competence of an individual vaccinator can be evidenced without the need for face-to-face training”, for instance by looking at how regularly they administer vaccines and at the number of doses they inject.

Read more: Pharmacies in England administered almost 4.8 million flu jabs in 2021/22, PSNC confirms

Pharmacy teams can also use the flu vaccinator competency assessment tool to self-assess or help demonstrate their competency as vaccinators.

The change in training requirements will align pharmacy with the current vaccination training requirements for nurses and doctors, according to PSNC.

The 2022/23 flu vaccination season will start on September 1.

 

PSNC “disappointed” with unchanged service fee

 

As with the last flu season, pharmacy teams will be paid a service fee of £9.58 plus the cost of the vaccine for providing the flu service, which is funded separately to the global sum for 2022/23 through NHSE&I vaccination budget.

The fee saw a one-off 50p increase in 2020/2021 to account for "the extra complexities due to COVID-19", a PSNC spokesperson told C+D. The amount was "taken from the Transitional Fund of [PSNC's] contract sum". 

Prior to that, the fee stood at £9.58, having periodically risen from £9.14 since the service was first established in 2015/2016. 

 

 

 

Director of NHS services Alastair Buxton said PSNC’s negotiating committee was “disappointed” at NHSE&I’s decision not to increase funding for the service this season.

“Yet again, the increasing costs contractors are experiencing in providing services [have] not been recognised by NHSE&I,” he stated.

Read more: Which pharmacies administered the most flu jabs last season?

“PSNC will continue to make the case to the NHS for increased funding for the service in future years,” Mr Buxton promised.

The negotiator noted that claims for its provision must be made within three months of administration to be accepted by the NHS Business Services Authority.

 

PGD published shortly

 

The UK Health Security Agency’s patient group direction (PGD) “will be published shortly”, PSNC noted, after it is authorised by NHSE&I.

Contractors will be able to deploy other healthcare professionals such as nurses to provide the service under the supervision of a pharmacist, as it was the case last year, it added.

Read more: ‘It’s a win-win!’: Are pharmacy student vaccinators the future?

They can also alternatively refer to the national protocol for the flu vaccination programme “to make use of the skill mix flexibilities allowed by the protocol”.

Last month, health secretary Steve Barclay walked back on the government’s decision to exclude 50-64-year-olds from free jabs in the upcoming season.

Vaccine manufacturers Viatris, Seqirus, and Sanofi have told C+D they are confident they will be able to meet increased demand for flu vaccines this coming season.

 

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