Pharmacy technicians can administer flu vaccine under national protocol for England

Exclusive: Public Health England has confirmed that, under the national protocol for administration of inactivated influenza vaccine, pharmacy technicians will be able to prepare and administer the vaccine.

Pharmacy technicians will be permitted to administer flu vaccines in England during the 2021/2022 flu season, The Pharmaceutical Journal has learned.

The national protocol for administration of inactivated influenza vaccine, published by Public Health England (PHE) on 1 September 2021, sets out procedures for flu vaccination for this winter’s flu season.

The protocol states that the clinical superviser, who takes overall responsibility for delivery of the protocol, “must be a registered doctor, nurse or pharmacist trained and competent in all aspects of the protocol”.

However, on 7 September 2021, PHE confirmed to The Pharmaceutical Journal that pharmacy technicians can now prepare and administer the flu vaccine under the protocol. This follows a national protocol for COVID-19 vaccinations, published in December 2020, under which pharmacy technicians are able to administer COVID-19 vaccines.

There are parts of the flu vaccine protocol that technicians cannot perform — assessment of the person being vaccinated, obtaining informed consent and providing advice — which must be done by a pharmacist, doctor or nurse.

Victoria Steele, superintendent pharmacist at LloydsPharmacy, said the multiple welcomed “the change in protocol to allow pharmacy technicians to deliver vaccinations within a pharmacy setting”.

“We are reviewing the guidance and will be considering how best we use our pharmacy teams to deliver our flu services,” she said.

Liz Fidler, president of the Association of Pharmacy Technicians UK, said she was “pleased” that pharmacy technicians were included in the national protocol for influenza vaccination, but “disappointed that pharmacy technicians are not enabled to complete the whole process, including consent, for which they have the skills and knowledge as a registered profession to undertake”.

She went on to describe it as “a missed opportunity at a time of need”.

An expansion of the scope of patient group directions (PGDs) in October 2020 allowed a wider range of registered healthcare professionals (HCPs) to supply and administer COVID-19 and flu vaccines. Under the guidelines, pharmacy technicians can administer vaccines under supervision, but cannot undertake clinical assessments or obtain consent.

“This inhibits the profession, as under the national protocol, consent needs to be obtained from a HCP on the PGD list,” Fidler said. “This can mean the process is not as straight forward as it can be, and not an effective use of another HCPs time.”

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Citation
The Pharmaceutical Journal, PJ, September 2021, Vol 307, No 7953;307(7953)::DOI:10.1211/PJ.2021.1.104269