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London pharmacies raise profile with shingles jab campaign

Rekha Shah: Campaign could demonstrate pharmacy's ability to reach deep into our populations
Rekha Shah: Campaign could demonstrate pharmacy's ability to reach deep into our populations

Pharmacy London hopes to get "a high percentage" of community pharmacies taking part in a month-long campaign to raise awareness of the NHS shingles vaccination.

Local pharmaceutical committees (LPCs) in the capital are encouraging London's more than 1,800 pharmacies to promote greater uptake of the shingles vaccination, Pharmacy London chief executive Rekha Shah told C+D last week (June 30).

Over July, patients will be encouraged to get the vaccination from their GP practice, and pharmacies will also conduct a brief questionnaire with eligible patients, "to find out what the difficulties are around getting vaccinations", Ms Shah said.

“Through our own persuasive powers, we are hoping to get a high percentage of the 1,856 pharmacies in London participating. Even the multiples are willing and have instructed their teams to get behind it,” she added.

Shingles vaccine manufacturer Merck Sharp & Dohme (MSD) has developed packs for London pharmacies, which will have been delivered by July 3 at the latest, Ms Shah said.

“We will be running the campaign until July 30, but I will be keeping a close tab on the numbers and the data being collected along the way.”

Inequality across London

There are two cohorts for the NHS shingles vaccination programme – 70-73-year-olds, and a "catch-up" cohort of 78-80-year-olds, Ms Shah explained.

There is “a great deal of variation” in the uptake of the shingles vaccination in London, and therefore a "huge amount of inequality", she told C+D.

“The lowest performing clinical commissioning group area for the routine cohort is West London, at just 28%,” Ms Shah said. Sutton has the highest uptake, at 58%.

“We expect to see a rise in numbers of vaccinations – I’d be delighted if each person identified as eligible but unvaccinated [was] signposted by community pharmacy [to their GP] to get their jab,” she added.

“This in itself will demonstrate to commissioners the ability of community pharmacy to reach deep into our populations, imparting information and influencing their behaviour.”

In March, the National Pharmacy Association said it makes “perfect sense” for community pharmacy to offer a wider range of vaccinations – including shingles – after the success of the national flu service.

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