Community pharmacies in Scotland have been commissioned to provide small numbers of flu vaccinations in the first season they have been able to offer them to the general public on the NHS.
As of 12 October 2020, community pharmacies in NHS Ayshire and Arran had provided 1,431 flu vaccines. Those in NHS Fife had provided 5,150 vaccines as of 15 October and, as of 16 October, pharmacies in NHS Tayside had provided 550.
In addition, NHS Lothian told The Pharmaceutical Journal that it had, as of 14 October 2020, provided 10,000 doses to community pharmacies, which are offering vaccinations to eligible groups in the general public.
The flu season 2020/2021 marks the first time that community pharmacies in Scotland have provided NHS flu vaccinations; a move that was permitted under the Coronavirus Act 2020 as Scotland, like England and Wales, embarks on its largest ever flu vaccination programme.
Under the Scottish model of delivery for the flu vaccine, NHS boards and community pharmacy health board committees decide whether to commission community pharmacy contractors to provide the service — so not every board is using community pharmacies to provide NHS flu vaccinations to the general public.
Patients can also access the NHS flu vaccine through a range of new walk-in or drive-through centres located in community hubs, as well as GP surgeries.
In England, as of 21 October 2020, community pharmacies had delivered more than 1.6 million flu vaccinations. Welsh government figures showed that 16,323 flu vaccinations were given in a community pharmacy setting in September 2020, compared with 1,652 in September 2019.
Scott Garden, director of pharmacy for NHS Fife, said that as part of a “blended model” of flu vaccine delivery, community pharmacies in Fife were the “first-choice vaccination provider for ‘Care at home’ social care workers, with 64 pharmacies taking part this year. Vaccinations have also been provided for Fife care home residents and staff”.
For all other eligible people, Garden said, “the first choice of vaccination is a centrally organised, appointment-based system for attendance at a variety of venues”, including clusters/hub clinics or GP practices.
“If patients are unable to attend their appointments with either the cluster/hub clinics or GP practices, they can attend a community pharmacy for their vaccination.”
A spokesperson for NHS Borders said that it had “commissioned local community pharmacies to deliver flu vaccinations to social care staff”.
Similarly, a spokesperson for NHS Grampian said that “NHS staff and other staff who provide ‘hands-on personal care’ have been able to obtain their flu vaccine in the past from community pharmacies, and this will continue to be available this flu season. At the moment, community pharmacy involvement is for occupational flu delivery and not for patients”.