GP practices will be able to order additional flu vaccines for the 2020/21 season from government procured stock from mid-October, the DH announced in an update last week (October 9). However, the update did not contain any details about when community pharmacy teams will gain access to the vaccines
The DH confirmed that community pharmacies will receive a “pre-set proportion” of its additional stock but has yet to clarify how much the sector will receive, or when. The DH said information about how pharmacies can order from this stock will be made available shortly.
Earlier this month, pharmacy teams reported supply issues with this year’s flu vaccine due to unprecedented demand for the service following the COVID-19 outbreak
Boots and Lloydspharmacy temporarily closed their online booking systems for flu vaccines due to increased demand in September, and Well Pharmacy has also suspended its flu vaccine service for the time being.
On its website, Well says it doesn’t “have enough stock of the flu vaccine to meet the massive increase in demand that we have seen this year” and has not been able to “secure as much stock as [it] had expected”.
The multiple said it is “continuing to work with the NHS, Public Health England and manufacturers to resolve this issue”, adding that it hopes “to have more of the vaccine later in the flu season”.
After the government this year expanded eligibility for the free flu vaccine programme to include more groups than in previous years, the DH agreed to procure additional doses of seasonal flu vaccine from manufacturers.
However, pharmacy teams have yet to receive confirmation of when the ring-fenced stock will become available for them to order from. In last week’s update, the DH said GP practices are set to start receiving deliveries from the government-secured stock next month.
RPS: “Disappointing that pharmacists haven’t received updated guidance”
Royal Pharmaceutical Society (RPS) English pharmacy board chair Professor Claire Anderson told C+D yesterday (October 12) that it is “disappointing that pharmacists haven’t received updated guidance on flu vaccines yet”.
“We hope this happens as soon as possible to support a collaborative approach,” Professor Anderson added.
The Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee (PSNC) told C+D yesterday that it is “continuing to work with [the] DH on the details of how the sector will be able to access vaccines from the government’s backup stock when it starts to be delivered in November”.
AIMp: “Only right for community pharmacy to be included”
Leyla Hannbeck, chief executive of the Association of Independent Multiple Pharmacies (AIMp) told C+D yesterday that it is “only right for community pharmacy to be included and have access to flu vaccines to be able to continue delivering this great service”.
Ms Hannbeck said AIMp members have “highlighted the incredible high levels of good feedback received by patients so far this season” and pointed towards the accessibility of pharmacy to the public and the importance of this during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Gareth Jones, head of corporate affairs at the National Pharmacy Association (NPA), said to C+D yesterday that the NPA “expects to receive clarity on the issue in the next few days”.
“It will be essential to ensure pharmacy gets sufficient additional stock this year, as pharmacy is very well placed to reach the predominantly working population that are in the expanded eligibility group,” he added.