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Continued importance of the Covid-19 vaccination programme

NHS declares a watershed moment as all adults in the UK are now invited to receive their Covid-19 vaccination.

Tue 6th July 2021 The PDA

The importance of the Covid-19 vaccination in the fight against the virus is ever more present as cases begin to rise and the latest “Delta” variant becomes more prevalent. This put the brakes on the plans to ease restrictions on 21 June.

On 17 June, the former Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, Matt Hancock announced that one in four adults have had at least their first vaccination. He also announced that 1.5 million text messages would be sent, inviting all over 18s in England to have their vaccination.

In Northern Ireland and Wales, and in some places in England such as Bedford the Covid-19 vaccination programme was previously available for those aged over 18. In Scotland, invitations are expected to go shortly although in Glasgow vaccinating all adults is already underway in a bid to combat the current outbreak in the city. Whilst demand is expected to be high from the 18+ age group, people must not forget that there are still some people in high-risk groups, as identified by the JCVI, that have yet to engage in the programme.

Headlines have also been dominated by news that Covid-19 vaccinations are to become compulsory for staff working in care homes in England, and that the government intend to consult on extending these measures to the NHS. Workers without a medical exemption in the care sector will have 16 weeks to get both jabs from the time regulations are approved by Parliament.

Pharmacists are a critical part of the health system, and they typically engage with sections of the public who have some form of health concern. Many are already working in environments where they are required to have certain vaccinations such as for Hepatitis B.

Pharmacists are often in close contact with patients in hospital wards and in other settings. Many community pharmacies are very small workplaces where colleagues cannot socially distance and pharmacists may see patients in small consultation rooms. Many of these environments also had insufficient PPE at the start of the pandemic. It is easy to see how participation in the vaccination programme is critical in reducing the risk of Covid-19 to all.

The PDA strongly supports the need for widespread vaccination uptake and has been actively supporting the Covid-19 vaccination programme in several ways. This includes the multi-lingual #GetVaccinated campaign which sees pharmacists from across the UK promoting the safety and effectiveness of the vaccine in a variety of languages. The PDA also enabled over 1,000 pharmacists from the locum population to access their vaccination as frontline NHS workers. This is through the development of the PDA Locum Vaccination portal which operated earlier this year.

PDA Chairman, Mark Koziol said: “One of the key messages of the PDA’s #GetVaccinated campaign is that the vaccine will help to protect you, your family and your community, and we believe that this also translates to a professional environment.  Whether the route to reducing hesitancy and maximising vaccination uptake to protect the most vulnerable members of society is required, or through increasing understanding and awareness, our aim is to support our members to inform and engage people that they are in contact with to drive uptake.

Whilst the PDA strongly encourages its members to participate in the vaccination programme, it also recognises that as Health Professionals and educated scientists, Pharmacists understand the balance between individual choice and the need to protect patients, colleagues, and themselves. There are some who will be medically exempt from the vaccination, and it is important that they are considered in any approach.

The PDA also understands there may be a small number of pharmacists who for reasons other than medical exemption do not wish to have the vaccination.  As a trade union, we will support them with any implications for their employment, within the government policy.”

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