Pharmacy employers encouraged to give staff flu jabs

To help protect community pharmacy teams from seasonal flu and ongoing Covid-19 risks, the NHS in England is asking employers to ensure that all their staff, including locums, are vaccinated as soon as possible.

Community pharmacy employers are asked to encourage and enable staff who are eligible for a free flu jab to take this up, and to make sure all other members of their teams are also vaccinated.

This will meet their responsibility to protect their staff and patients and support the resilience of the health and care system, says the latest Primary Care Bulletin (no 66). It is particularly important to ensure that staff in vulnerable groups, such as Black and Ethnic Minority employees, are adequately protected this winter, it adds.

The public marketing campaign to support the flu vaccination programme is due to commence in October. Vaccinations will be offered to those aged 50-64 in November and December. However, people in this age group cannot be vaccinated under the NHS service until an announcement is made by NHSE&I. The decision on when to start vaccinating this group of patients will be driven by the availability of vaccine and progress made with vaccinating other target groups.

The annual service specification and supporting patient group direction for the Community Pharmacy Seasonal Influenza Vaccine Service was published on 28 August. PSNC has negotiated a number of changes to Service Framework to reduce the burden on contractors and to help them provide the service at a greater scale than before and in a Covid-safe manner:

  • Vaccination in the pharmacy can be undertaken outside the consultation room where this supports better social distancing and it can be done in a way which maintains patient safety and confidentiality
  • Off-site provision is permitted in locations that may provide greater space for patients, greater ability to manage patient flow to maintain social distancing and better waiting facilities in the event of poor weather
  • Contractors will be able to vaccinate care home staff at their place of work.

In addition pharmacies do not now need to:

  • Submit a completed copy of the Notification of intent to provide off-site NHS flu vaccinations to the regional NHSE&I team before vaccinating patients in their own home or a care home.
  • Notify the patient’s general practice in advance when providing flu vaccinations at a care home
  • Obtain signed consent, as long as the patient’s consent is noted in the clinical record.

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