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Community Pharmacy welcomes the Seasonal Influenza Vaccination Programme 2021/22 letter issued by the Department of Health today, which confirms an enhanced role for community pharmacists in the flu vaccination programme this winter, following the network’s success in delivering previous flu vaccination services with almost 16,000 people vaccinated in last year’s campaign.

The Community Pharmacy Seasonal Influenza Vaccination (CPFV) service, beginning in early October is open to those who are aged 50 years and over and frontline Health and Social Care workers with hundreds of community pharmacies across Northern Ireland providing the service.

Community Pharmacy NI, the representative body for all community pharmacies across Northern Ireland, welcomes this greater role and are encouraging those eligible to get vaccinated and do their bit to minimise the spread of the seasonal flu, alleviate pressures across the health service, and protect the most vulnerable in our society.

Over 350 community pharmacies are currently playing a central role in the Community Pharmacy COVID-19 Vaccination service, which will continue to run into the winter period, with pharmacies also set to play a key role in the booster programme.

Chief Executive of Community Pharmacy NI, Gerard Greene said:

“The flu vaccine is vital in protecting the most vulnerable in our society. Community pharmacies across Northern Ireland welcome the expansion of this service and urge anyone who can access the vaccine to do so.

“This winter is expected to be incredibly tough on our health service, with a harsh flu season anticipated, alongside the ongoing battle against COVID-19. The expansion to those over 50 years old and frontline Health and Social Care workers gives the public the option of getting their flu vaccine at a convenient, accessible location with a local pharmacist they know and trust.

“Following on from a successful Community Pharmacy flu vaccination service last winter when almost 16,000 flu vaccine doses were administered, this year’s Community Pharmacy Winter Flu Vaccination service will run alongside the COVID-19 vaccine programme which will include an enhanced and vital role for community pharmacy in the COVID-19 booster programme.

“The threat of COVID-19 has made the need for vaccines even more crucial, and we strongly advise all those eligible to contact your local pharmacy team and get your winter flu vaccine. It is not just your health you protect when you are vaccinated, it is those most vulnerable in our society and the health service that is already working beyond capacity.”

Community Pharmacist, Raymond Anderson said:

“We are thrilled to be offering even more members of our community the opportunity to receive a flu vaccine at their local pharmacy. Community pharmacy has demonstrated it can deliver vaccination programmes successfully and the expansion of this service is welcomed by not only the profession, but also the public.

“The flu is a lot more debilitating than a cold with harsher symptoms that can leave people in need of medical attention. The flu vaccine is the best protection the health service can offer from the seasonal flu. We strongly encourage all within our community who are eligible for the flu vaccine to get in touch. It will protect you and your loved ones this winter.”

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