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Four Scottish health boards confirm pharmacy flu jab plans

Four of Scotland’s 14 health boards have confirmed they will involve community pharmacies in their winter flu jab service this year.

This winter, health boards in Scotland will be able to commission pharmacies to offer NHS flu vaccination services for the first time, though it is up to each region to decide whether to do so and whether to have pharmacies provide the full service or part of it, such as vaccinating health and care workers.

When approached by Pharmacy Network News, four health boards confirmed they had plans to involve community pharmacies in their flu programme to some extent, with one saying they had decided against it and another still in the process of identifying flu vaccination partners. 

No response was received from the other eight health boards.

NHS Tayside and NHS Lothian both told PNN they planned to involve pharmacies to some degree, with NHS Lothian director of primary care transformation David Small saying his health board’s plans included “a mix of venues including GP practices, drive through locations, community pharmacies, community clinics all being deployed to ensure we immunise as many people as possible and protect NHS capacity”.

Meanwhile, NHS Ayrshire and Arran said it had spoken to pharmacies “to ascertain the level of interest in providing flu vaccinations” and was “currently finalising the list of participating pharmacies and plans to provide this service”.

NHS Forth Valley spoke of “provisional plans” to carry out flu vaccinations in pharmacies, adding that the programme “will be started once the flu services delivery plan is implemented”.

Meanwhile, NHS Lanarkshire has decided against using pharmacies. Chief primary care pharmacist George Lindsay told PNN: “This year, NHS Lanarkshire is delivering flu vaccinations to everyone who is eligible – this is more than 300,000 people. Due to the scale of the programme and the impact of Covid-19, we are planning on holding large vaccination clinics to ensure physical distancing and a fast throughput of patients. 

“Before making our decision, we considered community pharmacy with representatives from Community Pharmacy Lanarkshire and the Area Pharmaceutical Committee. However, we ultimately decided on our mass vaccination model.”

NHS Borders did not confirm either way, but said it was “actively working with key partners across the Borders to identify suitable premises and different models of delivery”.

A circular from Scottish chief pharmaceutical officer Rose Marie Parr last Friday confirmed that pharmacies will receive a flat fee of £8.27 for every NHS flu jab they provide, as well as a one-off participation fee of £250.

Talks are still ongoing to determine how much pharmacies will be reimbursed for using privately sourced vaccines to deliver the NHS service.

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