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‘Self-identifying’ social care and hospice workers to get free flu jab

Pharmacists will not be held accountable if people falsely claim to be eligible for a free jab
Pharmacists will not be held accountable if people falsely claim to be eligible for a free jab

Social care and hospice workers can access the NHS flu vaccination service by “self-identifying” at pharmacies, without needing to provide evidence of eligibility, the DH has said.

Social care and hospice workers do not need to provide proof of eligibility to access the NHS England and NHS Improvement (NHSE&I) free flu jab scheme, the Department of Health and Social Care (DH) has confirmed to C+D.

However, if a patient falsely claims they are a social or hospice worker, pharmacists will not be held responsible and will not be prosecuted, the DH explained, adding that there is no evidence of people attempting to claim free flu jabs they are not entitled to in previous years.

Although employers should provide staff with a letter to confirm they are eligible for a free flu jab, and the DH will be issuing guidance urging social care employers to do so, this is not a requirement for pharmacies and GP surgeries to see when vaccinating patients.

Earlier this year (July 24), the government announced the expansion of the 2020/21 flu jab programme to ready the NHS for winter pressures and a potential second peak of COVID-19 by extending eligibility for free vaccinations to groups including people aged 50-64, children in year 7, those on the shielded patients list and members of their household.

PSNC: Patient eligibility not for pharmacy teams to “police”

Alastair Buxton, director of NHS services at the Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee (PSNC), said it is “not for [pharmacy teams] to police whether social care workers are eligible for vaccination”.

“We support the DH guidance that such workers just need to self-identify as a care worker when seeking vaccination in a pharmacy,” he told C+D yesterday (September 24).

Mr Buxton stressed that pharmacy teams “are focused on vaccinating as many people as possible”, which is “more important than ever” this year to increase uptake of the flu vaccination.

CCA: Social care workers should “present evidence”

A spokesperson for the Company Chemists’ Association (CCA) told C+D yesterday that social care workers should “present evidence that they are eligible to be vaccinated under the flu vaccination service,” and that their employer should have told them to bring this with them.

“The types of appropriate evidence accepted could be an ID badge or payslip from their place of work,” the spokesperson said.

It is then “up to the pharmacy to decide if they are satisfied that the patient is eligible under the advanced service,” they added.

AIMp: Pharmacies doing a great job embracing the flu vaccination service

Leyla Hannbeck, chief executive of the Association of Independent Multiple Pharmacies (AIMp) agreed that “policing” flu jab eligibility is “not the role of pharmacists”.

“The need to have social care workers vaccinated is practical and pragmatic and we follow DH guidance,” she told C+D yesterday, adding that teams are "doing a great job embracing the flu vaccination service”.

Do you ask patients for evidence that they are eligible for a free jab?

John Urwin, Community pharmacist

Could all be a bit academic. Many pharmacies have already administered as many flu jabs as they did in the whole of last season and are now finding it impossible to reolenish their stocks.

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