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NPA: 'Perfect sense' to commission pharmacy shingles scheme

Readers say “obvious answer” to improve shingles jab uptake is to commission pharmacy

It makes “perfect sense” for community pharmacy to offer a wider range of vaccinations after the success of the national flu service, the National Pharmacy Association (NPA) has said.

“Pharmacy is proving itself with the national flu service,” the NPA said in response to the record number of vaccinations delivered this season.

Broadening the range of vaccination services available in community pharmacy – to cover shingles and others – is “a current matter of discussion with the NPA board”, it confirmed to C+D today (March 2).

Pharmacy blamed for shingles vaccination decline

The pharmacy flu service was cited as a contributory factor to the decline in shingles vaccination uptake, in a Public Health England (PHE) report published in January.

The report suggested that because patients were choosing to go to "pharmacies or other providers" for their flu vaccination, rather than their GP practice, GPs were not able to identify who was eligible for a shingles jab.

In response to C+D's coverage of the pharmacy flu service, readers said the “obvious answer” to improve uptake of shingles vaccinations would be to commission pharmacies to provide them as well.

NHS England did not confirm if it would consider commissioning a pharmacy shingles vaccination service when asked by C+D.

"We commission general practice to provide this service to eligible patients and work to ensure as many patients as possible take up this opportunity," a spokesperson said.

Because GPs hold the patient's record, they are "well placed" to assess a patient’s suitability for the shingles vaccine, the commissioner added.

When C+D asked PHE the same question, the organisation responded that it needs “the support of all health professionals" to tackle shingles.

“We are considering a range of possible approaches to simplify the programme and its eligibility criteria," it added on Monday (February 27).

Current guidelines

Under the current pharmacy flu specification guidelines, patients who are eligible for other vaccinations should be referred to their GP practice.

Pharmacists can administer "other vaccinations", for example the pneumonia vaccine, if locally contracted to do so, the guidelines state.


Should NHS England commission a community pharmacy shingles vaccination service?
Total votes: 79
What other vaccination services could pharmacy deliver?

Soon-To-Be Ex-Pharmacist, Superintendent Pharmacist

I might consider this so long as the bizarre eligibility rules are explained to everyone first. 

A Hussain, Senior Management

They don't get paid as much for doing a shingles jab so not as bothered. Vaccine supplied centrally so there.  goes your purchase margin that for flu is about £5 on top of the around £10 fee. But if you can't be bothered to run a computer search for eligible patients and make a phone call for £10 then you're clearly earning too much. Had plenty of patients asking me about the vaccine as they'd heard nothing. Surgery weren't even clear on who was eligible. 

Valentine Trodd, Community pharmacist

Oh, and the next person that talks about pharmacy having to 'prove itself'... I might just strangle them. We're doing too much for free already! Perhaps we should 'prove ourselves' by doing less e.g. stop free deliveries, free blister packs, free care home services, etc. then we might be a bit more appreciated.

Valentine Trodd, Community pharmacist

No, no, the answer is to close pharmacies altogether, as obviously we can't be trusted to do anything right and everything should be left to the GPs who seem to have lots of spare time on their hands.

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