MMR vaccinations offered at more than 40 community pharmacies until 2025

Exclusive: There will be 43 pharmacies taking part in a scheme in north west England to vaccinate children and young people who have missed one or both doses of the measles, mumps and rubella vaccine.
child receiving vaccination

A scheme that uses community pharmacies to provide measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccinations to children has been extended to cover a total of 43 pharmacies and will run until the end of March 2025, NHS England has said.

NHS England has said that the programme, which includes pharmacies across the north west of England, will also support a planned call for people aged 16–25 years who have missed one or both doses of their MMR vaccinations, due to launch on 18 June 2024.

All participating pharmacies will then be able to offer the MMR vaccine to all eligible people aged 6–25 years.

NHS England initially launched an MMR catch-up campaign in January 2024, in response to an outbreak of measles cases and a fall in MMR vaccination rates to a 13-year low, with GP practices contacting parents of children aged 6–11 years to book appointments for any missed doses of the vaccine.

Then, in March 2024, the pilot scheme launched in 28 pharmacies across parts of Lancashire, south Cumbria, Cheshire and Merseyside.

Tricia Spedding, regional deputy head of public health for NHS England (north west), said at the time that the MMR vaccination rate was 85% in the north west of England — significantly lower than the World Health Organization’s target of 95% coverage with two doses of MMR vaccine by the age of 5 years.

A spokesperson for NHS England said: “The scheme increases choice and improves access for patients, with community pharmacies working alongside GP practices and school-aged immunisation providers to offer MMR vaccination.

“These collective efforts are helping to significantly increase uptake in the region.”

Commenting on the scheme, Alastair Buxton, director of NHS services at Community Pharmacy England (CPE), said: “This response to the measles outbreak demonstrates how community pharmacy teams can support patients and the NHS when rapid action is required, as long as appropriate support and funding is made available.

“It is also a good example for integrated care boards (ICBs) of how they could make better use of community pharmacies to improve vaccine uptake when the commissioning of such services is delegated to them in April 2025.”

NHS England’s vaccination strategy, published in December 2023, said that delegation of commissioning responsibility to ICBs was expected to allow them to design a local vaccination delivery network that met the needs of their local population.

In September 2022, the then Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee — now CPE — said that pharmacies could provide a wider range of vaccinations in an overhauled NHS vaccination service, in response to a government consultation.

Steve Brine, chair of the House of Commons Health and Social Care Committee, called for the MMR vaccine to be delivered through community pharmacies in a House of Commons debate on the rise in measles cases in January 2024.

Last updated
The Pharmaceutical Journal, PJ, June 2024, Vol 312, No 7986;312(7986)::DOI:10.1211/PJ.2024.1.318222

    Please leave a comment 

    You may also be interested in