Pharmacies in England participating in the NHS flu vaccination programme delivered an average of 282 vaccinations per pharmacy in the 2020/2021 season, data obtained by The Pharmaceutical Journal show. This represents an increase of 52% on 2019/2020, when the average was 185 vaccinations per participating pharmacy.
Data from the NHS Business Services Authority’s ‘Advanced service flu’ report, published on 18 May 2021, show that between 1 September 2020 and 31 March 2021, community pharmacies delivered 2,766,332 vaccinations, an increase of more than 1 million on the 2019/2020 flu season, when this figure was 1,721,711.
The highest average delivery rate per pharmacy was in the region covered by Suffolk and North East Essex Integrated Care System (ICS), where participating pharmacies administered an average of 373 vaccinations during the season.
Ed Garratt, executive lead for the Suffolk and North East Essex ICS, said it was “incredibly pleasing that community pharmacies in the region delivered so many flu vaccines.
“With flu and COVID-19 co-circulating, there was an early fostering of a collaborative approach between pharmacies and the wider health care system,” Garratt said.
“More pharmacies than ever before participated in the flu programme, and pharmacies were able to take on more of the flu provision as GP practices focused on the roll-out of COVID-19 vaccinations.
“As an ICS we worked hard on reinforcing the message that, despite COVID-19, flu vaccinations were still important for many people, and the new national NHS flu vaccination finder resource was a useful tool in supporting vaccination uptake.”
Among individual pharmacies and branches, Broadway Pharmacy in Preston, Lancashire, delivered the greatest number of NHS flu vaccinations: 5,658 across the 2020/2021 season. Of the top ten performing pharmacies, nine were independents or a branch of an independent multiple.
Boots was the highest performing multiple, delivering 600,945 vaccines during the season. Independent multiples also performed well, with Day Lewis, Paydens and Weldrick making it into the top ten, delivering 100,901, 25,526, and 13,796 vaccinations, respectively.
Leyla Hannbeck, chief executive of the Association of Independent Multiple Pharmacies (AIMp), said: “[The data show] AIMp members have local trust among the communities they serve and a significant effect nationally on roll-outs. We have AIM members on the list of top ten branches and top ten companies.
“Our members uniquely have the strengths of both independents and national multiples, and used correctly we can be a valuable tool in NHS campaigns,” she added.
In Wales, data from Public Health Wales show that community pharmacy teams delivered 89,574 flu vaccinations as of 22 February 2021; a 40% increase compared to the previous flu season when community pharmacies in Wales delivered 64,094 flu vaccinations.
Community pharmacies in Scotland took part in NHS flu vaccination programme in 2020/2021 for the first time. Local health boards were given discretion as to whether they would commission community pharmacies as part of local delivery models.
A spokesperson for NHS Lothian told The Pharmaceutical Journal that community pharmacy teams in the health board’s region had administered 20,725 NHS flu vaccinations, while a spokesperson for NHS Ayrshire and Arran said that 3,296 NHS flu vaccinations had been delivered in community pharmacies.