Intended for healthcare professionals

Rapid response to:

Letters Delay in flu vaccine supplies

Pharmacies giving flu jabs further disintegrates general practice

BMJ 2019; 367 doi: (Published 31 October 2019) Cite this as: BMJ 2019;367:l6269

Rapid Response:

Who further disintegrates our healthcare and affects our vaccine uptake rate?

It is obviously disheartening when we hear medical doctors, facing work overload and burnout,<1> deny help from pharmacists.<2><3> I hear concerns of pharmacies not having full resuscitation equipment on site. I wonder how often this full resuscitation equipment is used when patients receive vaccines in general practices. If this equipment really needs to be used often, perhaps the safest place to give vaccinations is none other than intensive care units, where intubation equipment is available and advanced life support trained professionals are around. If a patient really becomes unstable in the community, even a non-healthcare person would consider calling the ambulance.

I hear concerns about lack of good communication from pharmacies to doctors’ offices regarding vaccinations.<2><4> However, do any pharmacists here think the communication from doctors to pharmacists is good? Do pharmacists always hear from doctors about which patients have received flu jabs, with batch number and expiry dates?

One reason for having vaccinations given in pharmacies is to improve patient access to vaccines, rather than reducing doctors’ incomes. Many patients have to take time off from work and wait more than two weeks to see a GP in the NHS <5>; in contrast, it is more convenient to receive vaccines from a community pharmacy, which have longer office hours, including Saturday mornings.<2> It is really the naysayers within the NHS, not the pharmacists, that further disintegrate our healthcare and affect our vaccine uptake rate.

1. Greig P, Snow R. Fatigue and risk: are train drivers safer than doctors? BMJ. 2017;359:j5107.
2. Clayton R. Pharmacies giving flu jabs further disintegrates general practice. BMJ. 2019;367:l6269.
3. Iacobucci G. General practice threatens to withhold repeat prescriptions until patients have flu vaccine. BMJ. 2017;359:j4682.
4. de Lusignan S, Hoghton M, Rafi I. Flu vaccination by pharmacists leads to suboptimal medical records. BMJ. 2017;359:j5084.
5. Wise J. Many patients in England are waiting more than two weeks to see a GP, figures show. BMJ. 2018;363:k5221.

Competing interests: I have been paid for working in pharmacies, hospitals, and general practice, but not for writing this letter.

10 November 2019
Eugene Y.H. Yeung
Medical doctor