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'No plans' to roll out MMR jab in NI pharmacies despite awareness campaign

The Public Health Agency (PHA) has said there are “no plans” to roll out the measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccine from community pharmacies in Northern Ireland, despite a recent influx of cases. 

Northern Ireland’s PHA this week (June 4) launched a new campaign in community pharmacies across the country to “highlight the importance of vaccination” in protecting the population against MMR.

The awareness campaign, which is part of the Living Well service offered in “over 500” Northern Irish pharmacies and will run throughout June and July, has been launched in conjunction with Community Pharmacy Northern Ireland (CPNI) and the Department of Health (DoH), it said.

It comes as Northern Ireland has seen a total of 11 confirmed cases of measles this year so far, after previously having no cases for the last seven years, it added.

But a spokesperson this week (June 5) told C+D that there are “no plans” to roll out the delivery of MMR vaccinations from community pharmacy.

The jab is currently provided through GPs and vaccination clinics run by trusts, they added.


“Well-positioned” to “signpost”


The PHA told C+D that pharmacists are “well-positioned” to provide the community with public health information and “signpost” to where the vaccination is available.

PHA immunisation programme manager Geraldine Mallon said that measles is “on the rise”, with the region seeing “a fall in the numbers of children receiving the MMR vaccines”.

“It is therefore important that unvaccinated children and young adults get any missed MMR vaccines as soon as possible,” she added.

CPNI did not comment on whether it would welcome a rollout of the MMR vaccine to pharmacies in the future.

In April, C+D revealed that NHS London had moved to deploy MMR vaccines in “selected” London pharmacies after a surge in cases and fall in uptake.

And last month, the health and social care committee’s (HSCC) pharmacy inquiry report recommended that NHS England (NHSE) should commission community pharmacies to provide “all routine and seasonal immunisations for adults and children”.

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