Key information for pharmacy professionals and pharmacy owners
We recognise the pharmacy professionals and pharmacies on our register are playing an important role in a potential COVID-19 vaccination programme across Great Britain. We want to support the vaccination programme wherever possible.
This online guide summarises the key points to note if you are supporting the COVID-19 vaccination programme across Great Britain and signposts to key resources.
Last updated 1 Feburary 2022.
Supporting the COVID-19 vaccination programme
Please choose the option below that applies to you:
1. I am delivering COVID-19 Vaccinations as an individual pharmacy professional
- You need to meet the standards for pharmacy professionals in whatever setting you are working.
- You will need to undertake relevant training for your role. There will be vaccine-specific training for each vaccine that is approved. Please speak to your employer for more details.
- You need to be aware of and working to all the relevant guidance, regulatory requirements and standard operating procedures for the setting in which vaccinations are being delivered; please speak to your employer for more details.
- You will need to make sure you have appropriate indemnity arrangements in place.
2. My pharmacy is delivering COVID-19 vaccinations ‘at’ or ‘from’ a registered pharmacy
- Pharmacy owners have a responsibility to make sure the standards for registered pharmacies are met at all times, including at any designated sites for COVID-19 vaccinations. This includes the standards relating to governance, risk management, equipment and facilities. We also expect pharmacy owners to be meeting the supporting guidance for these standards, including the guidance on ensuring a safe and effective team, at all times.
- The Responsible Pharmacist (RP), the Superintendent Pharmacist (SP) and the pharmacy owner should work together in an appropriate and clear governance framework detailing their respective functions and accountabilities.
- You and your staff need to be aware of and working to all the relevant guidance, regulatory requirements and standard operating procedures for the setting in which vaccinations are being delivered; please speak to your local PCN /Health Board for more details.
- You will need to make sure any pharmacy staff involved undertake relevant training for their role. There is vaccine-specific training for each vaccine.
- If you are involved in delivering vaccinations on a site other than a registered pharmacy, you should deliver that service to the same standard as you would do if you were in a registered pharmacy. You can use the standards for registered pharmacies as a framework for this, including in relation to governance, risk management and equipment.
- You will need to make sure there are appropriate indemnity arrangements in place for clinical and non-clinical tasks.
- Any pharmacy professionals that are involved in delivering COVID-19 vaccinations need to meet the standards for pharmacy professionals in whatever setting they are working.
You will need to make sure you have appropriate indemnity arrangements in place for your vaccination service.
Until October 2021, the government was providing clinical negligence indemnity for community pharmacies in England and their staff that are operating under, and in accordance with, a Local Enhanced Service agreement for the COVID-19 vaccination programme. This scheme has now come to an end and pharmacies must make their own commercial arrangements.
Further details about the indemnity arrangements for the COVID-19 vaccination programme in England is provided by NHS Resolution.
NHS Resolution has also published specific FAQs about community pharmacy indemnity for COVID-19 vaccinations.
If you want to deliver COVID-19 vaccinations at a pharmacy-led designated site that is not the registered pharmacy (an associated premises):
- Changes to legislation have recently been introduced which mean that medicinal products used for vaccination or immunisation against coronavirus can now be prepared, assembled and administered under the supervision of a pharmacist at a site that is not a registered pharmacy.
- This means you now no longer need to apply for temporary registration if you are providing a COVID-19 vaccination service using a vaccine that requires preparation or assembly at a site that is not a registered pharmacy.
- Any pharmacy-led site that you use to deliver COVID-19 vaccinations would be classed as an associated premises. You must comply with the standards for registered pharmacies at the associated premises and be linked in an appropriate governance framework to the registered pharmacy from which the service is provided.
- The vaccination service you provide at the associated premises is open to being inspected by the GPhC just as if it were taking place at a registered pharmacy.
- Pharmacists working at the associated premises providing clinical oversight for vaccinations as the required “registered healthcare professionals”, and any other pharmacy professionals working at the associated premises, will need to meet the standards for pharmacy professionals at all times.
- The Responsible Pharmacist (RP) at the registered premises is responsible for the safe and effective supply of medicines at the associated premises. The on-site pharmacist(s) who are delivering the service will need to be linked in with the Responsible Pharmacist at the host pharmacy, as well as the Superintendent Pharmacist (SP) and the pharmacy owner, via an appropriate governance framework.
3. I’m looking for FAQs and links to resources about the COVID-19 vaccination programmes
- NHS England: COVID-19 vaccination programmes
- Key vaccination information from other organisations (from NHS England website)
- NHS England: Standard operating procedure: COVID-19 local vaccination services deployment in community settings
- PHE: COVID 19: the green book: chapter 14a: vaccination information for public health professionals
- Specialist Pharmacy Service: COVID-19 vaccines
- NHS Resolution: Summary of indemnity arrangements in England
- Scottish Government: Coronavirus (COVID-19): vaccination
- Public Health Wales: COVID-19 vaccination information
Frequently asked questions
As a pharmacy professional, do I need to be vaccinated against COVID-19?
Pharmacists and pharmacy technicians working in all settings across Great Britain should be vaccinated against COVID-19, unless they are medically exempt. We have outlined our position on pharmacy professionals being vaccinated against COVID-19 in a statement.
Can pharmacy technicians work as vaccinators in the COVID-19 vaccination programme?
Pharmacy technicians are playing a vital role in the distribution, preparation and administration of the COVID-19 vaccine.
Pharmacy technicians can administer COVID-19 vaccines under a Patient Specific Direction (PSD) or a National Protocol.
Pharmacy Technicians are not able to administer vaccines under a Patient Group Direction (PGD) as they are not included in the Registered Health care professionals listed in legislation.
Further information is available in the position statement published by APTUK on Pharmacy Technicians and the COVID-19 Vaccination Programme.
The Specialist Pharmacy Service provides further information about giving vaccines legally: mechanisms and application on its website.
How will you manage fitness to practise concerns about pharmacy professionals providing COVID-19 vaccinations
We recognise some pharmacy professionals may find themselves working in unfamiliar circumstances or surroundings, or for professionals, working in clinical areas outside their usual practice for the benefit of patients and the population as a whole. This may include those involved in vaccinating patients against COVID-19.
We have committed to continue to take into account factors relevant to the environment in which the professional is working, including relevant information about resources, guidelines or protocols in place at the time, throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, and this will include if professionals are working in the COVID-19 vaccination programme. Our joint statement with other regulators outlines our approach.
Will the GPhC inspect pharmacies and associated premises that are providing vaccination services?
Our approach includes working closely with the NHS to support pharmacies that are setting up and operating COVID-19 vaccination sites. In England, our inspectors have worked closely with NHSE&I regional commissioning teams in the set-up phase of pharmacy sites to provide support and seek assurance that our standards will be met.
Our inspectors make contact with pharmacies that are providing the service so that the pharmacies have a point of contact and are able to raise queries and concerns. We also work closely with the NHS and pharmacies which are offering COVID-19 vaccinations in Scotland and Wales.
During national lockdowns, and while Plan B restrictions were in place, we stopped our programme of routine pharmacy inspections. Instead, we focused on providing support to registered pharmacies on their arrangements and plans, to help manage pressures and challenges during the pandemic.
From 31 January 2022, our inspectors have resumed some risk-based routine inspections.
Pharmacies and associated premises providing COVID-19 vaccination services may be visited or inspected by the GPhC. This may be for providing assurance that pharmacy services and vaccination services are continuing to be provided safely or if we receive information that would suggest a visit or inspection may be appropriate.
Our inspection team is also continuing to provide support to registered pharmacies on their arrangements and plans, to help them manage pressures and challenges during the pandemic.