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Amanda Smith…The flu vaccine service in community pharmacy…to jab or not to jab!

Amanda Smith
Amanda Smith


LAST year Community Pharmacy West Yorkshire announced that they would be commissioning a NHS flu vaccination service from pharmacies in our region. The service specified that the flu jab would have to be administered by a pharmacist (much to one of my dispenser’s disappointment!) and anyone interested in providing the service should book a place on a training course.

Initially I wasn’t sure if this was a good idea. Was it worth paying out for the training? Would enough patients be interested in using the service for us to cover the costs? Do I really want to be giving people injections? This last question was the one that concerned me the most. I’m not a squeamish person but I felt like I would be happier slicing someone open with a scalpel than sticking a needle in them. (I’m just guessing about the scalpel you understand, I’ve never actually tried it, just in case you were wondering.)

After a week or so of mulling it over and discussing it with other members of the team, we decided that we should give the new service a try. I could see that the convenience of having the flu jab in a pharmacy would mean that some patients would be interested and I felt that we could definitely target some of the people who struggled to attend the flu clinics at the surgery.

So decision made, I booked myself on the training course. The first part was to be completed online, followed by a hands-on training day covering injection technique and emergency first aid.

Part of the online course showed video clips from other pharmacists that were already providing a vaccination service and as I watched them I felt a growing enthusiasm. I started to see the potential on offer. The huge convenience of being able to just drop in and have a flu jab would surely mean that patients would embrace this new service and make use of it.

Online training completed; I attended the injection training day with trepidation. What would happen? Would we have to practice on each other? Thankfully, no! Instead we were shown how to inject into a fake arm worn by a nurse, so we could work out where to stand and how it might feel. Everyone had to do three injections. I felt like my hands were shaking! I stood at the wrong side at first, so my hands were crossing over each other, but with some guidance from the nurses I soon found the correct position for me.

So that was that. I had completed the training and we were ready to go. There was still the dread of actually injecting a real person though. Who would be my first? Should I tell them? Probably not, but I felt like they should know!

I was rescued from my dilemma by Gary, one of our delivery drivers who volunteered to be my first victim. Brave man. I asked one of the other staff members to take a picture for our Facebook page that we could use to promote the service. This meant that I had to get on with it and show a confidence I wasn’t feeling inside. All the team were excited about the new service and I knew I couldn’t let them down. I did the injection. It was OK. I was OK. Gary was OK. The photo was quite good!

The next couple I did were slightly less of a worry and then after that it was fine. No worries at all and in fact I began to quite enjoy it! The patients loved having their injections in the pharmacy and they’ve already started asking if we’re doing flu jabs again this year. Just try to stop us!

Amanda Smith manages an independent pharmacy in Halifax, West Yorkshire 

Follow Amanda @HLPAmanda

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