Thinking flu – community pharmacy

Well another season has passed and another set of targets missed. It is just as well that it was another fairly light year. Hitting the 75% of over  age 65 years group proved just as illusive this year, and we are still miles from the under 65 years and at risk group. We couldn’t immunise 70% of the diabetics under 65 and we missed more than 60% of the pregnant women in England.

Immunising care workers crept above 50%, but that is hardly something to shout about. We can’t achieve a 60% immunisation rate in GPs. And don’t mention the program in 2 and 3 year olds as 42.6% and 39.5% is hardly a great result.

I am hearing about General Practice almost on its knees, but, I am mildly optimistic.

London Area Team are again commissioning community pharmacies across the whole of London to support the national flu program again. Where last year was a little last minute, this year the notification and awareness is early. I was impressed by the effort of community pharmacy last year and expect, with the advanced warning, even greater things this year.

I saw a couple of examples where innovative community pharmacists helped hospitals to deliver their targets, but I expect that to be a more common activity this year. It would seem to me an important step to increase the immunisation of healthcare workers in all situations where they have regular contact with patients to be immunised

I have also been pleasantly surprised that the shingles vaccine will also be available to community pharmacy. And I will check the paperwork to see if pregnant ladies and children are also included within the specification. Perhaps that is too much to ask for. However, next year I hope that community pharmacy, through their core contract, may be asked to work in partnership with General Practice to deliver all immunisations within the national program.

At the end of the day this all about giving more opportunities for people to access appropriate immunisations. I will be expecting community pharmacists to be asking – “have you had your flu vaccine this year” to more people this year, followed by the invitation – “ you can have it done at the local GP practice or if you want, I can give it to you here”.

So if you want to ask me the question? The answer is yes – my community pharmacy is closer to my home than my practice and just three doors up from the newsagent where I get my paper!


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