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Health bodies: No need for gloves and aprons when giving flu jabs

Pharmacists must wear a sessional fluid-resistant type IIR facemask during flu clinics

Community pharmacists do not need to wear gloves and aprons when they administer flu jabs and other vaccinations, according to updated guidance by the UK public health bodies.

Gloves and aprons should instead be worn “when there is (anticipated) exposure to blood/body fluids or non-intact skin”, according to the Guidance for the remobilisation of services within health and care settings, which was updated last week (August 21).

Pharmacists must wear a sessional fluid-resistant type IIR facemask and “apply hand hygiene between patients” during vaccinations/injection clinics, the guidance said. 

The updated guidance was issued jointly by the Department of Health and Social Care (DH), Public Health Wales, Public Health Agency Northern Ireland, Health Protection Scotland/National Services Scotland, Public Health England and NHS England.

“Sessional use of single-use personal protective equipment (PPE) items has been minimised and only applies to extended use of facemasks for healthcare workers,” according to the public health bodies.

Use face masks

The updated guidance – which replaces previous guidance issued on June 18 – continues to recommend the use of face masks for staff “in addition to social distancing and hand hygiene”.

“Physical distancing of two metres is considered standard practice in all health and care settings”, the UK health bodies added in the guidance.

Pharmacy teams should continue to wear a type IIR face mask on a sessional basis when working in an area with possible or confirmed COVID-19 cases, where it is not possible to maintain the two-metre distance.

A type I or type II face mask – or type IIR face mask should those two be unavailable – should be worn when staff working in the pharmacy cannot maintain social distance from one another all the time, according to the guidance.

The Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee (PSNC) said yesterday (August 24) that it is in discussion with the DH and NHS England and Improvement on reimbursement for the costs of PPE incurred by pharmacies, “including the PPE used when providing the flu vaccination advanced service”.

In June, PSNC told contractors they should “assume” that wearing a fluid-resistant surgical mask will be “a minimum requirement” for delivering the flu service this season.

What are the objectives for this year’s flu vaccination service, given the COVID-19 outbreak? Read our CPD module on the topic to find out more.

WHat do you make of the updated PPE guidance?

Hope Mask, Locum pharmacist

I know Coronavirus and many other pathogenic microbes thrive on people's skin for days. It's like saying NO NEED TO WEAR gloves during surgery. Despicable recommendation. Please look after yourself as a healthcare professional by following commonsense safety practices everytime irrespective of poor opinions from other healthcare providers.

 Gloves protect you and your colleagues from infections. Washing hands alone is not guaranteed to prevent spread of infections contracted through skin contact. 

Chris Locum, Locum pharmacist

...meanwhile, they won't have any patients in front of them and therefore, no need to consider any possible implications of virus transmission.

Paul Kelly, Community pharmacist

what's the problem? Insist on patient wearing face mask. Wash hands before contact and again after injecting. Don't touch your face before resanitising

Joan Richardson, Locum pharmacist

Test and trace employees are told to regard any skin on skin contact as a cause to isolate if one of the people involved subsequently tests positive for Covid - it doesn't matter if you wash your hands before and after.


Boom Shakalaka, Locum pharmacist

Ignore this stupid advice and wear gloves and any other PPE that you feel necessary to administer the flu jab.

Soon-To-Be Ex-Pharmacist, Superintendent Pharmacist

Frankly, if I was going to make so much of a mess doing a flu jab that I needed an apron, then for both my and my patients sake, I wouldn't bother. Gloves on the other hand seem a sensible precaution because the site does sometimes bleed a little or some of the injection leaks out and needs to be wiped away. The one thing I could never understand was that we only need to wipe the site if it is 'visibly dirty'. Odd.

Heather Pharm Tech, Allocation & Distribution

Via dart gun - this tickled me! Does that mean we can stand at the shop door, dart people, then make them pay for the pleasure!

Freelance Chemist, Pre-reg Pharmacist

PLM, why not?

Joan Richardson, Locum pharmacist

People having skin on skin contact are required to self isolate should one of the people subsequently test positive for Covid.  No gloves surely means skin on skin contact unless, of course, the flu vaccination is going to be given via a dart gun! 

I'm not sure how this advice works either as regards the mention of contact with "non-intact skin" as surely inserting an injection needle means that the skin is not intact!

Soon-To-Be Ex-Pharmacist, Superintendent Pharmacist

The dart gun was my idea!! I knew I should have patented it!

My other thought is one of those 'needle-on-a-stick' type of things they use for taking tissue samples from sharks. Similar demographic really.....

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