Pharmacists will not be required to wear single-use gloves or aprons when administering flu vaccinations in 2020/2021, according to updated government guidance on personal protective equipment (PPE).
The guidance, published by Public Health England (PHE) and NHS England on 21 August 2020, replaces previous guidance published in June 2020, which said that gloves and aprons were single use and “between vaccination of individuals they should be disposed of and hand hygiene performed”.
The latest update now says that single-use gloves and aprons are “not necessary” and are instead “recommended when there is (anticipated) exposure to blood/body fluids or non-intact skin”.
“Staff administering vaccinations/injections must apply hand hygiene between patients and wear a sessional facemask,” it adds.
Pharmacists continue to be advised to wear type IIR surgical facemasks where maintaining a two-metre distance from patients is not possible.
Rekha Shah, chief executive officer of Kensington Chelsea & Westminster LPC and Pharmacy London lead for vaccinations, said the change in guidance was “expected” considering the “absolutely huge need for the single-use items” under the previous advice.
But she said employers will “want to make sure they do whatever is needed to keep their staff feeling safe, not just being safe”.
“We are going to need enough supplies because people will want to use full protection,” she said, adding that patients seeing pharmacists wear gloves when administering vaccinations “will make them feel more confident as well”.
Shah added that she sees the guidance “as a minimum absolutely … you do what is in your opinion safe in the circumstances you’re in and the way you are operating your service”.
Pharmacy negotiators had previously expressed concern over the supply of PPE required to administer flu vaccines.
In a statement on the updated guidance, the Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee said that it was still in ongoing discussions with the government about “the way in which pharmacy contractors will be reimbursed for the cost of PPE purchased for use during the pandemic, including the PPE used when providing the flu vaccination advanced service”.
However, community pharmacists in Dudley have secured an additional £3 to cover the costs of PPE when vaccinating staff from Dudley Metropolitan Borough Council (DMBC).
The locally commissioned service will enable community pharmacists in the area to vaccinate 2,500 DMBC staff and claim £13.50 per vaccination.
According to the Dudley Local Pharmaceutical Committee newsletter, pharmacies were paid £10.50 per vaccination in 2019/2020, with the increased payment this year expected “to cover some of the PPE costs that will be expected to be used”.