Pharmacies could close temporarily to prioritise flu jabs

Community pharmacies in England could be allowed to close temporarily to allow them to cope with the high demand for flu vaccination that is expected this winter, the PSNC has said. 

The negotiator gave an update on Friday regarding its discussions with Government regarding the 2020-21 flu season in which it said work was ongoing “to facilitate pharmacies to focus solely on the provision of flu vaccinations during a proportion of their opening hours”.

“Consideration is also being given to the ability of contractors to provide flu vaccination outside of their normal contracting hours,” the PSNC said, though it stressed there were no guarantees yet concerning flexible arrangements for pharmacies.

This followed an August 5 letter from Government and NHS bodies confirming that care home employees will be able to access flu jabs in their workplace and that the community pharmacy seasonal influenza advanced framework will be updated to allow pharmacies to administer jabs in a residential or care home setting.

The letter reminded health and care providers that there will be a “concerted effort to significantly increase flu vaccination coverage and achieve a minimum 75 per cent uptake across all eligible groups”.

There will be a strong emphasis on increasing flu vaccination levels among people living in deprived areas and those from BAE communities, the letter said: “We need to ensure equitable uptake [among these groups] compared to the population as a whole and help protect those who are more at risk if they are to get Covid-19 and flu.

“It will therefore require high quality, dedicated and culturally competent engagement with local communities, employers and faith groups.”

In light of the increased demand for flu vaccine that is anticipated, the Government said it ahs “procured additional national supply of the adult vaccine and will issue guidance in September on how and when this can be accessed”.

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