Now you’re running with your flu clinics’ – what else to consider.

You’re fully trained to administer vaccines and you’re now up and running with your flu clinic. So is there anything else you could be doing?

A good place to start is always your peer mentors. Find someone who’s an old hat at running a flu clinic and pick their brain…it’s often the little hints and tips that help to make things run smoothly.

Next on your list should be a stepwise approach to look at any barriers and turn them around, maximise the offering you have now and then take things to another level by looking for new opportunities.

Work with your GP, not against them

GPs will understandably feel threatened by pharmacists offering NHS flu vaccinations because of a potential loss of income for them. You could choose to sacrifice your own service to avoid souring your professional relationship, or you stand your ground and aggressively chase every opportunity.

However, a sensible approach would be to talk to your GP or Practice Manager to see how you can work together to tackle the huge numbers of eligible patients who don’t receive a flu vaccination at all. Agree how you will notify the Practice about their patients having a flu vaccination. Agree how you can signpost patients back for other interventions the Practice fears they may miss out on. If you can show that you are listening and understand their fears, you will be in a much better place to find a way forward and strengthen your longer term professional relationship.

Maximise your opportunity with local businesses

Most pharmacists will also be offering a private flu vaccination service, but have you thought beyond this by offering a service to local businesses? Larger companies may have an Occupational Health programme in place because they recognise the huge costs to the business of their employees being off sick with flu. But for a smaller business with smaller teams this can be devastating. So it’s well worth approaching them to offer a service to their employees, and you can keep costs down by arranging for the staff to visit the pharmacy if the business is local.

Remember also that you probably see many professional carers or care home staff who are not eligible for an NHS flu vaccination, but because they are always looking after vulnerable patients their employer should be arranging for them to receive a flu vaccination, which you are best placed to offer.

Get the whole team involved

When you’re planning your clinic, think about how you can get your pharmacy team involved. This could be anything from helping keep the consultation room professional & ready at all times, flagging up suitable patients from their repeat prescriptions, talking to personal carers who bring in prescriptions, or supporting patients to complete any personal details before the pharmacists’ PGD consultation.

And of course your staff may well have links to local businesses where friends and family might work and give you useful contacts to get in touch with, or even help you with making the approach.

Make good use of social media

Most businesses now have professional social media accounts to reach out to a whole new digital community. Make sure you’re not missing out, post regularly, share useful information and always keep it professional. Then share on your own personal social media and encourage your staff to do the same to really reach a wider audience.

Focus on quality and capture customer feedback

It goes without saying that your service should maintain the highest levels of professionalism and customer service. But don’t stop there. Capture patient feedback, use it to improve your service, but also use it to build a database of customers to contact next year. Important: You MUST make yourself fully aware of all data protection laws and registration requirements, as well as any changes, and adhere very strictly to these.

Beyond flu…think travel!

The vaccine administration techniques you will have learned and are accredited to perform are also applicable to travel vaccines. So why not upskill your knowledge and expand your service? With increasing pressure on the NHS, more people will be seeking out private travel vaccinations, so offering a travel service will maintain your vaccination skills year-round and bring in extra revenue from not only vaccines but also anti-malarials and other travel-related OTC sales.

Offering a travel service has never been easier and you can read more about the package of training and support available from Valneva (here.)

Written by Nitin Makadia (on behalf of ECG) 29th September 2017