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Vaccination

Pharmacy technicians told they can administer Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine under government protocol

The government’s national protocol for the Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine will allow pharmacy technicians to administer vaccines under the supervision of a registered healthcare professional.

Open access article

The Royal Pharmaceutical Society has made this article free to access in order to help healthcare professionals stay informed about an issue of national importance.

To learn more about coronavirus, please visit: https://www.rpharms.com/resources/pharmacy-guides/wuhan-novel-coronavirus

Vaccine being drawn

Source: Science Photo Library

The national protocol allows “those who are registered healthcare professionals who cannot operate under a PGD [patient group direction], and those who are not registered healthcare professionals, to safely administer a licensed or temporarily authorised COVID-19 or influenza vaccine”

Pharmacy technicians in England are able to administer the Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine, the Association of Pharmacy Technicians (APTUK) has said.

In a position statement, APTUK said that the government’s national protocol enables pharmacy technicians in England to “be authorised by name” to work under the supervision of a registered healthcare professional to deliver COVID-19 vaccines.

The national protocol for the Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine, which was published on 18 December 2020, is a legal instruction put in place following changes to the Human Medicine Regulations that came into effect from 16 October 2020.

The changes enabled each of the four UK nations to draw up their own national protocols determining who could administer COVID-19 vaccines.

The protocol for England defines the training and competence requirements of vaccinators and allows the administration of vaccines to be split into four tasks: clinical assessment and consent; preparation and drawing up of vaccine; administration; and record keeping.

An NHS England document summarising the protocol says it allows “those who are registered healthcare professionals who cannot operate under a PGD [patient group direction], and those who are not registered healthcare professionals, to safely administer a licensed or temporarily authorised COVID-19 or influenza vaccine”.

APTUK said in its position statement that pharmacy technicians “are not included in the national protocol definition of registered healthcare professionals” and, therefore, “cannot undertake clinical assessment or clinically supervise the process of others”.

“Pharmacy technicians can be authorised by name to work under this protocol and do so under the supervision of a registered doctor, nurse or pharmacist. Pharmacy technicians can prepare vaccine. Pharmacy technicians can administer.”

Liz Fidler, president of APTUK, told The Pharmaceutical Journal that pharmacy technicians “have been integral to the procurement, storage, supply and training of healthcare professionals in terms of preparation of the vaccine”.

“Therefore, the introduction of the national protocol to enable administration is most welcome and makes absolute sense as pharmacy technicians have the required skill set and knowledge,” she said, adding that pharmacy technicians “work across a range of healthcare settings so are well positioned”.

“APTUK will continue our work requesting that pharmacy technicians are included as registered healthcare professionals able to supply and administer under a PGD for longer term patient benefits, but recognise the national protocol as an enabler at this time and the legislation around PGD status will take time,” she added.

Citation: The Pharmaceutical Journal DOI: 10.1211/PJ.2021.20208702

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