World news wrapup: 1 October 2020


Boots suspends flu jabs for less vulnerable; Irish pharmacists want to help make savings, inclusion in New Zealand

UK: The Boots chain has reportedly suspended bookings for flu vaccination after “unprecedented demand” for the service.

The Daily Mail reports that Boots has resorted to allowing only members of at-risk groups – such as people aged 65 and those who have existing conditions which make them more vulnerable to a bad outcome from the flu – to access vaccination in its pharmacies.

The high demand for vaccination comes after NHS England encouraged the general public to be vaccinated against seasonal influenza this year. As in Australia, this was to reduce the possibility of patients doubling up with COVID-19 and flu, as well as to reduce the number of flu patients being hospitalised during an already very busy time.

“This year, our customers have been more conscious than ever about protecting the health of themselves and their families, and protecting against flu has been front-of-mind for many of us,” Boots said in a statement.

“As a result, we have seen more people than ever booking early to get their flu vaccinations.”


Ireland: The Irish Pharmacy Union is calling on the Government to make cost savings in the health sector by calling on pharmacies.

Commenting on the IPU’s Pre-Budget Submission, IPU Secretary General Darragh O’Loughlin said, “There are sensible cost savings available which could be reinvested in community-based care if we allow pharmacies to expand the care they provide, which would result in better patient outcomes and increased capacity and would be cost-effective for the State”.

“The health service has suffered from budget constraints for decades. Now in the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic it is recognised that we need to do things differently.”

He said that the implementation of a promised biosimilars policy could save millions of euro, as could introducing pharmacy-based chronic disease management programs.

“This is a broad concept and experience around the world shows how effective it can be,” Mr O’Loughlin said.

“One example would be introducing pharmacy-based screening for atrial fibrillation. A study commissioned by the IPU found this could prevent over 2,300 cardiac events per year with an associated cost saving of €45 million (AUD$74 million).

“As well as saving lives it would avoid €1.36 billion in additional health spending over the next 30 years.”


Hong Kong: The Society of Hospital Pharmacists of Hong Kong has conducted a survey of parents and teachers of young children on their views about flu and COVID-19.

The Society found that more than 70% of the 200 people interviewed are worried that their young children will be infected with both flu and COVID-19 simultaneously, reports

More than 80% of the parents interviewed were worried that droplets produced when children cry as a result of being vaccinated with a needle would increase the risk of spreading the novel coronavirus.

The Society found that 70% of parents wanted a nasal spray flu vaccine instead, which it recommended be used in schools in a bid to increase the vaccination rate.


New Zealand: At its Annual General Meeting on Thursday 24 September 2020, the Pharmaceutical Society of New Zealand amended its rules to allow the appointment of the president of Ngā Kaitiaki o Te Puna Rongoā (the Māori Pharmacists’ Association) to its National Executive, in addition to the seven elected members.

The Pharmaceutical Society of New Zealand is the professional, membership-based association representing over 4,000 pharmacists in New Zealand. The Māori Pharmacists’ Association is a group who represent Māori professionals in the pharmacy sector, guided by Māori principles and values.

Ian McMichael, president of the Society said, “We believe that we can’t look to address equity issues unless we look at our obligations under the Treaty of Waitangi and accept Māori in a full partnership role.”

Ngā Kaitiaki o Te Puna Rongoā president, Kevin Pewhairangi said, “The Māori Pharmacists’ Association is committed to improving health outcomes for Māori and we are delighted that the Pharmaceutical Society is partnering with us on this.”

Mr Pewhairangi, a pharmacist at Horouta Pharmacy in Gisborne, is already involved in running cultural competency training for the Society to help members increase their knowledge of Māori tikanga (culture) and its application to pharmacy practice.

“This is a huge milestone for our association and a sector leading movement made by the Pharmaceutical Society,” says Mr Pewhairangi.

“For health equity to occur there must be genuine engagement and dedication to the cause. The Pharmaceutical Society are showing other stakeholders that in order to improve the sector’s response to health inequities and put in genuine work to improve the poor health status of Māori, it must not only be from the frontline, but also from the top down – this being stakeholder governance groups,”

“Partnership is an underutilised tool that has the potential to make the difference when all other methods have fallen short.”

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