Community pharmacies to be commissioned to provide RSV vaccination programme

The programme was announced following advice from the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation.
Older person having vaccination

Community pharmacies are to be commissioned to provide vaccinations against respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) from September 2024, NHS England and the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) have announced.

In a letter to NHS bodies, sent on 24 June 2024, Steve Russell, director of vaccinations and screening at NHS England, and Mary Ramsay, director of public health programmes at the UKHSA, said the vaccinations for older adults would be commissioned from general practice as an essential service and from “a number of community pharmacies”.

More detail on the commissioning of the vaccination services “will be shared in due course”, the letter said.

The programme will offer the vaccine to older adults, aged 75–79 years, and follows advice from the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI), which was published in June 2023.

“To offer the best protection, we are asking systems and providers to vaccinate as many people as possible during September and October 2024 prior to the expected RSV season,” the letter added.

There will also be an RSV vaccination programme beginning in September 2024, which will offer all women who are at least 28 weeks pregnant a single dose of the RSV vaccine.

It is unclear whether there will be any pharmacy involvement in this programme, but NHS England said the “ideal opportunity” to offer vaccination would be at the 28-week antenatal appointment, following prior discussion at the 20-week appointment.

The letter to health organisations said that a new RSV patient group direction template for RSV vaccinations will be produced by UKHSA for “NHS England areas to authorise for their commissioned services”. 

The first RSV vaccine for older adults was approved in the UK by the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency in July 2023.

Alastair Buxton, director of NHS Services at Community Pharmacy England, said the announcement was “a welcome first step to engage community pharmacy in the rollout of a new NHS vaccination programme”, adding that it was “aligned with the vision for the future of community pharmacy and NHS England’s vaccination strategy”.

Malcolm Harrison, chief executive of the Company Chemists’ Association, said: “It is essential that pharmacy plays an important role in this new vaccine programme. The role that community pharmacies play in tackling health inequalities, particularly through increased access, is an important and growing one.  

“It is testament to recent successes that community pharmacies will also be commissioned to provide this vaccine. The NHS must learn from the successes and challenges of current vaccine programmes. Minimising bureaucracy is critical to enabling pharmacies to engage.”

Last updated
The Pharmaceutical Journal, PJ, June 2024, Vol 312, No 7986;312(7986)::DOI:10.1211/PJ.2024.1.321960

    Please leave a comment 

    You may also be interested in