The Programme for a Partnership Government has a commitment to expand the role of community pharmacies in managing the health of public patients. Any service expansion should address unmet public health needs, improve access to existing public health services or provide better value for money or patient outcomes if delivered through pharmacies, and such decisions should be evidence-based.
Among the areas under consideration is the expansion of pharmacy-provided vaccination for public patients, in order to make such treatment as accessible as possible.
Currently, influenza vaccinations are available in pharmacies for medical card and at-risk patients, as well as privately. The seasonal influenza vaccine is recommended for the following at risk groups:
persons who are 65 years of age and over;
persons who have a long-term health condition;
persons who work in healthcare;
persons living in a nursing home or other long-term care facility; and
persons in regular contact with pigs, poultry or water fowl.
Pharmacies also provide pneumococcal and shingles vaccinations on a private basis.
The recommendations for the seasonal influenza and the pneumococcal vaccination programmes differ in the recommended groups and the number of doses required. There are no plans to provide reimbursement for the administration of pneumococcal vaccine when administered by pharmacists.