Checks are in place for jabs

As a community pharmacist, though not one providing flu vaccinations, I was disappointed to read the letter from Rosemary Ellis, of Belford Medical Practice Patient Participation Group, (Berwick Advertiser, November 17), criticising the provision of this service from pharmacies.

Saturday, 26th November 2016, 12:00 pm
Updated Tuesday, 29th November 2016, 9:39 am

This letter suggests a shocking lack of understanding of the workings of the modern NHS.

For the sake of your readers, I wish to clarify that the free flu jabs offered by pharmacies are commissioned, funded by, and, indeed, advertised by the NHS in the same way as GP surgery-administered vaccinations.

I should also like to allay any fears Ms Ellis may have caused your readers over the appropriateness of vaccines administered to patients without detailed knowledge of medical history.

I have, in recent years, been given a flu vaccination by the public health department of the former Newark and Sherwood Primary Care Trust following appropriate questioning by a nurse with no knowledge of my medical history.

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Flu vaccination in pharmacies follows a very strict protocol, which requires the use of the same questioning in order to obtain all relevant information.

Pharmacists are not permitted to administer the vaccine if there is any doubt as to its suitability.

In such a case, the patient would be advised to attend his or her GP surgery, where reference to a full medical history may be used to clarify the situation.

Where I may agree with Ms Ellis is in her view that some, but by no means all, pharmacies have not been clear in their marketing of flu vaccinations.

However, there are surely better ways of tackling this than by slurring a valuable public service in your pages.

Nigel Szczepaniak