Pharmacies To Offer Free Flu Jab To Health Staff

A pilot service offering frontline health and social care workers a free flu vaccine in their local pharmacy has been launched in the North West.

Piloting the scheme in counties Fermanagh, Tyrone and L'Derry, the Health and Social Care Board hopes the scheme will make the jab a lot more convenient for staff.

Frontline workers are four times more likely to be exposed to flu than the general population as they come into regular contact with patients and other staff. As a result, such professionals are at risk of passing it on to vulnerable patients and family members.

Joe Brogan, Head of Pharmacy at the Health and Social Care Board said: "We are working with community pharmacies to provide a convenient alternative for frontline health and social care workers to get the free flu vaccination. Although health trusts offer the flu vaccine at drop in clinics in hospitals, we realise the clinic times may not be convenient for some people and they can now choose to get vaccinated at a local participating community pharmacy. This is particularly important for those working in private care homes, domiciliary care workers or volunteer services such as hospices."
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Every winter, flu kills around 8000 people in the UK and seasonal flu is a key factor in causing winter pressures on the health service. The annual flu immunisation programme is about protecting those most at risk of serious illness from flu and in turn, reducing GP consultations, unplanned hospital admissions, pressure on emergency departments and staff absence.

Dr Sarah Milligan, Public Health Agency said: "For most people, flu is a very unpleasant illness, but in some cases and for those in 'at risk' groups, it can be very dangerous and sometimes fatal. I would urge all frontline health and social care staff to avail of this service and get vaccinated, as we know this is the best way to protect against the flu."

Gerard Greene, Chief Executive at Community Pharmacy NI said: "We welcome this pilot as it will support more people to get the flu vaccine at a time and location which suits them; often in the evening or at weekends, when traditional vaccine providers are likely to be unavailable.

"With 123,000 people visiting a community pharmacy every day in Northern Ireland, this unrivalled access to a health professional without the need of an appointment demonstrates that community pharmacy is an ideal, readily available platform capable of making a positive impact on the health and well-being of the local population. The value of expanding patient access is demonstrated by a wealth of strong global evidence which supports the role of the community pharmacist in immunisation services."

This pilot has been developed in partnership with the Department of Health, Health and Social Care Board, Public Health Agency and Community Pharmacy NI.

Click here for a list of participating community pharmacies.


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