Pharmacy flu vaccination services complement those provided by GPs and help boost the overall take up by patients in at-risk groups, according to researchers writing in the International Journal of Clinical Pharmacy
The researchers received completed surveys from 1,741 patients who had received a flu vaccination from one of 55 Boots community pharmacies in England between October 2014 and March 2015. They found that 25.6% of the patients eligible for a free NHS vaccination chose to pay privately.
Over a third (36.7%) of NHS-eligible patients who paid privately were either carers, healthcare professionals or social workers. Nearly half (48.8%) of patients who were eligible for a free vaccination but chose to pay had a higher education or professional qualification.
Patients from all demographic areas accessed both the NHS and private service within the pharmacy, including from the most deprived localities.
Convenience and accessibility were the main reasons for having the vaccination at the pharmacy, regardless of whether it was NHS or privately funded. For those patients who were NHS-eligible but paid privately, 16.7% said it was their personal preference; 8.3% chose the pharmacy setting because they were involved in an employer-supported scheme and 6.1% attended because of a personal recommendation.
“Pharmacy flu vaccination services complement those provided by GPs to help improve overall coverage and vaccination rates for patients in at-risk groups. These services are highly accessed by patients from all socio-demographic areas, and seem to be particularly attractive to carers, front line healthcare workers, and those of working age,” the researchers say.