FAQs on COVID-19 vaccinations for pharmacy staff
FAQs on COVID-19 vaccinations for pharmacy staff
January 7, 2021
NHS England and NHS Improvement (NHSE&I) have, today (7th January 2021), written to NHS Trusts and other NHS bodies to provide additional operational guidance on the vaccination of frontline health and social care workers.
We have summarised the key points for pharmacy contractors and their teams in the following questions and answers.
Q. Are community pharmacy staff included in the health and care workers cohort for vaccination?
Yes. Community pharmacy staff are included under the following grouping: ‘staff who have frequent face-to-face contact with patients and who are directly involved in patient care in either secondary or primary care, mental health, urgent and emergency care and community settings.’
Q. Are community pharmacy locum staff also included in the cohort for vaccination?
Q. Who will be providing vaccination to health and care workers, including community pharmacy staff?
NHS Trusts (‘Hospital hubs’) will be the default provider of vaccinations for staff, but Primary Care Networks (PCN) or community pharmacy vaccination sites may also be used to offer vaccination, if that is agreed locally.
Q. Will vaccination of health and care staff be prioritised?
The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) have recommended that priority should be given to frontline staff “at high risk of acquiring infection, at high individual risk of developing serious disease, or at risk of transmitting infection to multiple vulnerable persons or other staff in a healthcare environment”. That principle will guide the approach to rolling out vaccination to health and care staff at a local level, as will availability of vaccine.
Q. When will vaccinations start to be offered to community pharmacy staff?
The NHSE&I guidance says that by mid-January NHS Trusts (including acute, mental health, community and ambulance trusts) will be established as hospital hubs with a responsibility for COVID-19 vaccine delivery to all health and care staff. They will provide vaccinations 7 days a week to complete vaccination of all frontline health and social care workers as quickly as possible, with the expectation to have made significant progress by the first week of February.
It is therefore not possible to specify a time when all pharmacy teams will be offered vaccination, but the local process to undertake vaccination of this cohort is starting in earnest now.
Q. How will it be coordinated at a local level?
In the coming days, hospital hubs will be coordinating local efforts to identify and prioritise staff, including those in primary care (including community pharmacy). They will work with Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs), who will be responsible for collating information on eligible staff in primary care. CCGs will share information on the number of staff in these groups to help inform planning.
Many Local Pharmaceutical Committees (LPCs) have already undertaken work with their CCGs and contractors to collate data on the number of pharmacy staff eligible for vaccination, but if this has not happened in your area, you may be asked to provide such information over the next few weeks.
Q. How will bookings for vaccination appointments be made?
Hospital hubs will decide which booking and scheduling mechanism will be used to manage clinic bookings and make sure this is accessible to all health and social care workers. Your LPC will communicate the local process to contractors once this information is available.
Q. Will pharmacy staff need NHS IDs to get vaccinated?
No. However, while NHS ID will not be required, it is advised that staff should be able to provide evidence of their employment status in a health or care organisation. Contractors could provide their staff with a letter identifying that they work at a pharmacy. If staff have an NHS smart card, that could be used as ID for this purpose.
Q. How will I find out how this is going to work in my area?
While the process of vaccination of frontline healthcare staff, including pharmacy staff, has started in many areas, contractors are advised to stay up to date with communications from their LPC. LPCs are already working on this with NHS partners and they will provide their contractors with further local information as soon as they possibly can.
Q. What can contractors do now to get ready for vaccination of their staff?
Contractors are advised to provide information on COVID-19 vaccination to all their staff members, to ensure staff can make informed decisions about receiving the vaccine.
Contractors may wish to review the following materials to support this and provide their employees with access to the links or materials where appropriate:
Where contractors use locum staff on a regular basis, they could also pass on local information about COVID-19 vaccination arrangements to those individuals, to ensure they are also able to access vaccination.