Flu Vaccination – vaccinating outside the consultation room & off-site

Flu Vaccination – vaccinating outside the consultation room & off-site

The national community pharmacy Flu Vaccination Service 2020/21 has now finished. Community pharmacy contractors are therefore reminded not to administer any further vaccinations under this service.

The information below relates to the Flu Vaccination Advanced Service 2020/21; this will be updated as and when information on the 2021/22 service is published.

Following proposals from PSNC, NHS England and NHS Improvement (NHSE&I) and the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) agreed to the introduction of the following flexibilities and approaches for the 2020/21 Seasonal Influenza Vaccination Advanced Service.

Click on a heading below for more information.

Vaccinating in the pharmacy, but not in the consultation room

This flexibility allows contractors to provide the service in an alternative location in the pharmacy where this supports better social distancing, provided it can be undertaken in a way which maintains patient safety and confidentiality.

Annex 4 of the PSNC Briefing 26/20 Guidance on the Seasonal Influenza Vaccination Advanced Service 2020/21 provides considerations that contractors will need to take into account if they intend to use this flexibility. Contractors should also review the contents of Annex 3, as these will also apply to provision outside the consultation room but within the pharmacy setting.

This approach could also be supported through a flexibility that PSNC is seeking in the pharmacy regulations to allow contractors to undertake focused provision of the Flu Vaccination Service for periods of their normal opening hours, without the need to provide other pharmaceutical services during those periods. At present, changes to the regulations to allow such an approach have not yet been made and the flexibility is therefore not yet available to contractors. PSNC hopes the flexibility will be introduced in the near future and we will notify contractors through our normal communication channels if this occurs.

Off-site provision

The existing flexibility which allows flu vaccination of patients in their own homes (including care homes) will continue. Contractors are no longer required to submit a notification of intent to provide off-site NHS flu vaccinations to their regional NHSE&I team.

Additional flexibilities are also being introduced this year to support other off-site provision of flu vaccinations. These flexibilities allow provision of the service in locations outside of the pharmacy premises that may provide greater space for patients, greater ability to manage patient flow to maintain social distancing, and better waiting facilities in the event of poor weather.

The sites could include:

  • Marquees outside the pharmacy premises;
  • Local village, town or community halls;
  • Church halls, temples or mosques;
  • Car parks; and
  • Sports halls / Stadiums.

Contractors seeking to provide flu vaccination services off-site should review the considerations in Annex 5 of the PSNC Briefing 26/20 Guidance on the Seasonal Influenza Vaccination Advanced Service 2020/21 to support their planning.

Contractors seeking to vaccinate a patient in their own home should additionally review the considerations in Annex 6 to support their planning.

NHSE&I requires that pharmacists providing flu vaccinations in a patient’s own home or a care home have a valid Enhanced Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) certificate in place. Contractors needing to arrange this should refer to the DBS checking website for details.

Care homes

Contractors have previously been able to vaccinate patients over 18 years of age who are living in long-stay residential care homes, or other long-stay care facilities. As part of additional flexibilities introduced this year, contractors will also be able to vaccinate care home staff at their place of work.

In addition to the above flexibility, contractors are no longer required to have notified the patient’s general practice in advance of vaccination when providing flu vaccinations at a care home. However as is the case for provision in the pharmacy, contractors must ensure that a notification of the vaccination is sent to the patient’s GP practice on the same day the vaccine is administered or on the following working day.

Contractors seeking to vaccinate patients in Care home should additionally review the considerations in Annex 7 of the PSNC Briefing 26/20 Guidance on the Seasonal Influenza Vaccination Advanced Service 2020/21 to support their planning.

Additional Guidance

Guidance for Pharmacists Delivering a Seasonal Influenza Vaccination Service to Care Homes
This guidance was developed by the Suffolk CCGs’ Safeguarding Team and West Suffolk CCG Medicines Management Team.

Coronavirus (COVID-19): looking after people who lack mental capacity
Guidance for health and social care staff who are caring for, or treating, a person who lacks the relevant mental capacity. Amongst the guidance, Annex A – decision-making flowchart for decision-makers in hospitals and care homes provides help to decision-makers in hospitals and care homes to make decisions in relation to adults who lack the relevant mental capacity to consent to their care and treatment.

Assessing Mental Capacity and Gaining Consent
This guidance was developed by the Suffolk CCGs’ Safeguarding Team and West Suffolk CCG Medicines Management Team.

Additional points for all off-site provision


Pharmacy professionals should consider being accompanied by a trained pharmacy support staff member when providing flu vaccinations off-site. The primary role of the support staff member is to assist in the event of an emergency, but they could also undertake administrative tasks and, where necessary, act as a chaperone.

Clinical Waste

Contractors must ensure that they meet the requirements of the Waste (England and Wales) (Amendment) Regulations 2012 in terms of transferring pharmaceutical waste from the site of vaccination back to the pharmacy premises for subsequent safe disposal.

Maintaining the cold chain

Pharmacists must ensure that the cold chain storage of the vaccines is maintained. Vaccines should be taken from the pharmacy fridge and placed into an appropriate validated cool box (which will maintain the vaccines at a temperature between 2˚C and 8˚C) just before travel to the off-site location.

The vaccines should be kept in their packaging and should be insulated from the cooling system within the cool box, e.g. using bubble wrap, to avoid the risk of freezing. Any unused vaccines should be returned to the pharmacy fridge within eight hours of first removal.

Professional Standards

When considering any provision of flu vaccination services outside the pharmacy, contractors and their pharmacists are reminded that all the usual professional standards apply in whatever setting the service is provided. Any planning or risk assessments need to keep these standards central to considerations of how to provide the service, as they will offer a useful framework to help decision making.

Return to the flu vaccination hub page


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