Public Health England (PHE) has come under fire for urging people to support doctors and nurses “on the frontline” who provide vaccines and failing to mention pharmacists.
As it revealed research on its website showing 93% of parents agreed that health professionals are the most trusted source of advice for immunisation, PHE was criticised for leaving out pharmacists who provide a range of vaccination services in their communities.
“This European Immunization Week, chief executive of Public Health England, Duncan Selbie, reminds all those working in healthcare of the importance of speaking ‘confidently about the value of vaccines’ and urges everyone to support the vaccine heroes – those GPs and nurses who are on the frontline,” PHE said.
Royal Pharmaceutical Society (RPS) president Ash Soni tweeted: “Come on @PHE_uk. Why didn’t you include pharmacists?”
Pharmacist Karen Gunnell simply tweeted “And pharmacists!!!” before adding: “Pharmacists as well as Drs and nurses @PHE_uk - they provide a valuable contribution to immunisation, particularly winter flu season and are the place where the public can and do access quality and free public health advice at times when surgeries and clinics are closed.”
RPS director for England Ravi Sharma felt compelled to write to Selbie expressing his disappointment that pharmacy had been left out.
“The Royal Pharmaceutical Society supports European Immunisation Week, which raises awareness of the benefits of vaccination. We agree that vaccinations are vital in keeping whole populations free from ill health and harm. They save lives and improve quality of life,” Sharma wrote.
“We are proud to help celebrate the ‘vaccine heroes’ who protect lives through vaccination but are disappointed the campaign does not reference pharmacists as vaccination providers.
“This is despite our role in providing vaccinations on a large scale through the NHS national community pharmacy flu vaccination service, travel vaccines and other forms of immunisation.
"Pharmacists are also ‘vaccine heroes’ and play a central part in supporting immunisation plans and delivery. We actively promote the importance of immunisation and will continue to provide easily accessible advice, information and support for patients on vaccines.
"We very much hope that future campaigns will adapt to include the frontline profession of pharmacy and promote the vital role that pharmacists up and down the country fulfil day in, day out, in advising on and delivering immunisation campaigns.”
Picture: Enes Evren (iStock)