In a letter – a copy of which C+D has seen – sent to patients in England last month, an unnamed GP practice claimed that a “more effective flu vaccine…is only available at the surgery and not at your local pharmacy”.
The letter was brought to the attention of Lloydspharmacy’s parent company McKesson UK by a patient, “and we felt it was important to share”, the company told C+D.
“Patients should be free to choose where and when they get their flu jab. There is no room for coercion or anticompetitive behaviour,” McKesson UK stressed.
“As healthcare professionals, both GPs and pharmacists should be working together to ensure as many people as possible get their vaccination and, in many cases, that is exactly what happens.
“It’s important that patients understand the options available to them and don’t feel pressured into taking up a particular service – pharmacy- or surgery-based,” it added.
Community pharmacies are able to order three different vaccines for the 2019-20 season: the standard egg cultured quadrivalent inactivated vaccine (QIVe) for 18-64-year olds; the cell-grown quadrivalent vaccine (QIVc) for nine-year-olds and upwards; and the adjuvanted trivalent vaccine (aTIV) vaccine, Fluad.
Community pharmacies in England delivered more than 1.4 million vaccinations for the 2018-19 national flu service, according to NHS Business Services Authority data.
McKesson UK said: “The success of this commissioned service shows that pharmacists can play a vital role in delivering these kinds of national health initiatives.
“Allowing people this additional option should in turn free up some capacity for GPs to focus on more complex health issues.”