A whopping 68% of the 165 respondents to the C+D poll – which ran from November 11 to December 2 – said they feel confident about offering a COVID-19 vaccine to patients, “once I have received the training”.
Almost a quarter (22%) of respondents “fear the vaccines might not be safe”. Of these, just over one in 10, (12%) said that for this reason they “will refuse to administer [a COVID-19 vaccine] if asked”.
Only 10% said they are not confident about offering a potential vaccine and that “even with training”, they would “feel hesitant about it”.
The results of the poll come as the UK government announced today (December 2) that it has accepted the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency recommendations to approve the Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine in the UK.
Last week (November 27), Public Health England released training material for healthcare professionals who will administer the COVID-19 vaccines, which both experienced vaccinators and healthcare professionals who have not previously vaccinated can refer to.
Not possible with current workload?
A locum pharmacist working in north Wales and the north west of England, who wishes to remain anonymous, told C+D last week (November 26) that they “don’t see how the COVID-19 vaccine would fit into the workload safely, given the amount of work that is required anyway, which has increased due to the pandemic”.
They told C+D that some multiples are asking their staff to work more than previously but are not hiring additional personnel. “I certainly wouldn’t put myself up for more [work], because it’s too risky for the amount of money they offer”, the locum pharmacist added.
Alan Kerr, a Superdrug pharmacy manager based in Dorset, told C+D last week (November 27) that he is confident about administering intramuscular injections, as he has given “many thousands of flu jabs over the past 10 years”.
However, he said “additional help to manage the normal immense workload” would be required.
Royal Pharmaceutical Society president Sandra Gidley told C+D last week (November 27) that “safety will be paramount, both for patients and for those administrating the vaccine”.
It is “vitally important” that the sector receives assurances from government and the NHS “that the engagement of the pharmacy profession in the vaccination programme will not overwhelm the workforce but will allow for effective local collaboration with other health professionals in distributing this important vaccine to the general public”, Ms Gidley added.
Meet GPhC standards “at all times”
The regulator expects pharmacy professionals and business owners to follow its “standards and guidance at all times, including if they were working in the COVID-19 vaccination programme”, General Pharmaceutical Council (GPhC) CEO Duncan Rudkin told C+D earlier this week (November 30).
Pharmacy professionals might find themselves working in “clinical areas outside their usual practice” when administering a COVID-19 vaccine, he said. The GPhC is continuing “to take into account factors relevant to the environment in which the professional is working”, including if they are involved in the COVID-19 vaccination programme, Mr Rudkin added.
Last week (November 27), NHS England and NHS Improvement announced that only a “limited” number of pharmacies will be commissioned to deliver the COVID-19 vaccination programme in their locality.
In Scotland, similar arrangements are in place, as part of which only a few community pharmacies will be asked by health boards to deliver the COVID-19 vaccination service, the Scottish government announced last week (November 26).