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PHE taken to task for pharmacist vaccination snub

Public Health England has been urged to acknowledge the “vital role” pharmacists play in immunisation programmes after a statement from the health body omitted to mention the profession.

PHE issued a statement on Wednesday April 24 to mark European Immunization Week (April 24-30) in which it said healthcare professionals need to promote the value of immunisation and counter dangerous falsehoods that are propagated online. Everyone should "support the vaccine heroes – those GPs and nurses who are on the frontline," said PHE.

The public continues to trust healthcare professionals over social media when it comes to advice on immunisation, PHE said as it announced the finding that just nine per cent of 1,674 households it surveyed had encountered something that made them doubt whether they should have their child immunised – a “historically low proportion” and down from 33 per cent in 2002.

Calling on “all those working in healthcare” to promote the value of vaccines, PHE chief executive Duncan Selbie said: “It’s testament to our hard-working doctors and nurses that families trust them to provide accurate facts about the effectiveness of vaccines. They’re our vaccine heroes and we all have a role in supporting them.”

Omission of pharmacists “disappointing”

RPS England director Ravi Sharma said in an April 24 letter to Mr Selbie: “We agree that vaccinations are vital in keeping whole populations free from ill health and harm. They save lives and improve quality of life.

“We are proud to help celebrate the ‘vaccine heroes’ who protect lives through vaccination but are disappointed the campaign does not reference pharmacists as vaccination providers. This is despite our role in providing vaccinations on a large scale through the NHS national community pharmacy Flu Vaccination Service, travel vaccines and other forms of immunisation.

“Pharmacists are also ‘vaccine heroes’ and play a central part in supporting immunisation plans and delivery. We actively promote the importance of immunisation and will continue to provide easily accessible advice, information and support for patients on vaccines.

“We very much hope that future campaigns will adapt to include the frontline profession of pharmacy and promote the vital role that pharmacists up and down the country fulfil day in, day out in advising on and delivering immunisation campaigns.”

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