46% increase in uptake of flu vaccine in pharmacies

  • Over 115,000 people got their flu vaccine in a community pharmacy last season
  • Convenience and accessibility of pharmacies highlighted in recent report on promoting vaccines

IPU, 03 May 2018: The Irish Pharmacy Union (IPU) has welcomed newly published figures that show the number of people getting their flu vaccine in a community pharmacy increased by 46% over the last year. Figures from the HSE show that in the 2017/2018 flu season, 115,095 people got their flu vaccine in a pharmacy up from 78,935 in the previous year, accounting for approximately one in seven of the total vaccinations performed.

It is also reassuring to see that pharmacy vaccination does not take patients away from traditional vaccine providers as, since pharmacists started vaccinating in 2011, national flu vaccination has increased by 29%, GP flu vaccination has increased by 8% and HSE flu vaccination has increased by 140%.

During the flu season, which runs from October to April each year, people in at-risk categories are strongly advised to get vaccinated, and anyone in the at-risk groups who holds a medical card can get the vaccine free of charge at their local pharmacy. It is estimated that flu is responsible for between 200 and 500 deaths each year, mostly among the elderly.

IPU President Daragh Connolly said, “Pharmacists are the most accessible healthcare professional and, consequently, there are approximately 1.5 million visits to pharmacies by the public every week.

“The work undertaken by pharmacists delivers significant benefits to both patients and the State, by taking pressure off other parts of the healthcare system, including GPs and hospitals, allowing them to focus on patients with more complex conditions who require medical intervention”.

A recently published report in the United States* shows that pharmacies are well placed to address barriers to uptake of vaccination, and highlighted the benefits of pharmacy-provided vaccination:

  • Pharmacies typically have lower costs and higher productivity in administering vaccines;
  • Pharmacies offer patients greater time and locational convenience;
  • Pharmacies are well positioned to serve under-vaccinated populations, particularly in rural communities; and
  • Pharmacists are well positioned to educate patients on the benefits from vaccines.

Public opinion research by Behaviour and Attitudes clearly shows that the Irish public values pharmacies’ efficiency, opening hours, ease of access and lack of need for an appointment. The research also shows that the public wants to be able to access more services from their local pharmacy.

Mr Connolly said “the strong year-on-year increase in uptake on flu vaccines in pharmacies shows that increasing services available in pharmacies is for the betterment of patients and the healthcare system.”


Further information:

Siobhán Kane, Press and Communications Manager, 087 7751510

*Winegarden, W., April 2018: Promoting Access and Lowering Costs in Health Care: The Case of Empowering Pharmacists to Increase Adult Vaccination Rates. Available at https://www.pacificresearch.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/04/AdultVaccination_F_web.pdf

Editor’s Note

In the 2017/18 flu season, HSE figures show that pharmacists administered 115,095 flu vaccinations, an increase of 46% on the previous season and accounting for 13% of all flu vaccinations. In relation to the number of vaccines distributed since pharmacists started vaccinating in 2011, national flu vaccine numbers have increased by 29%, GP flu vaccines have increased by 8% and HSE flu vaccination has increased by 140%.

At-risk patients include:

  • Aged 65+
  • Persons with Down syndrome
  • Those with a long-term medical condition such as diabetes or heart or lung disease
  • People whose immune system is impaired due to disease or treatment
  • Cancer patients
  • Persons with a body mass index (BMI) over 40
  • Pregnant women
  • Residents of nursing homes and other long stay institutions
  • Healthcare workers
  • Carers
  • People with regular close contact with poultry, water fowl or pigs