Isolation Exemption changes for pharmacy teams
Self-isolation rules for the general public including health and social workers has changed.
The SG Policy Framework details the clinical safeguards required for close contacts of people with a positive COVID test to be able to return to work. The framework provides a checklist which employers can use with employees to provide clarity on self-isolation and COVID testing requirements for the person to return to work
Following a close contact notification, pharmacy team members:
Are not required to self-isolate if they:
are double vaccinated at least 14 days prior to exposure (vaccination date is ‘day 1’)
had a negative PCR test, after exposure;
are not currently self-isolating;
have no COVID-19 symptoms
Are required to self-isolate for 10 days:
if they have a positive PCR test result
have declined to take a PCR test
if they develop COVID symptoms after returning to work and they should take a PCR test
if they have a positive LFD test and they should take a PCR test
Are required to self-test with lateral flow tests for 10 days
if they have a negative PCR test and return to work. Staff declining LFD testing should not work in patient facing roles.
The employee’s line manager must:
facilitate the access to LFD test kits
risk assess ensuring that the member of staff is not returning to a high risk clinical setting
Resources to support the delivery of Pharmacy Collect in Northern Ireland
The NPA has prepared resources to support pharmacy teams in the delivery of the Community Pharmacy COVID-19 Lateral Flow Device Distribution Service ‘Pharmacy Collect NI’
The new optional pharmacy service requires pharmacy contractors to order free Lateral Flow Device test kits from the current wholesaler, Alliance Healthcare, for supply on request to the public in boxes of seven tests. Record of the delivery date and the batch number of tests must be retained. The COVID -19 Pharmacy Collect NI Lateral Flow Test eForm will be used to collate data on supply and is submitted for payments. Specific COVID-19 self-testing advice must be provided to people collecting the tests, including the purpose of the tests and how to use and report results.
Resources include a template Standard Operating Procedure (SOP), which outlines the provision of the COVID-19 LFD Distribution Service (Pharmacy Collect NI). A risk assessment template and FAQ document are also included to help staff prepare to deliver the service.
Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine approved for use in children aged 12-15 years (Updated 20/08/21)
The MHRA has approved the use of the Pfizer/BioNtech COVID-19 vaccine in children aged 12-15 years following a review of clinical trial data (Updated 20/08/21)
The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) has approved the use of the Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine for use in children aged 12-15 years. The decision for approval has taken place, following the review of clinical trial data in children aged 12-15 years for safety, quality and effectiveness of the vaccine by the MHRA and CHM. For further information please see here.
The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) has approved the use of the Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine to be used in children aged 12-15 years. The decision for approval has taken place, following the review of clinical trial data in children aged 12-15 years for safety, quality and effectiveness of the vaccine by the MHRA and Commission of Human Medicines (CHM).
Key points for pharmacy teams
Clinical data was thoroughly assessed and reviewed by two groups within the CHM, the Paediatric Medicines Expert Advisory Group and the COVID-19 Vaccines Benefit Risk Expert Working Group; with no new side effects identified in children and the safety data obtained was comparable to those seen in young adults
Having seen the quality, effectiveness and safety data gathered for the Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine which was used in over 2000 children aged 12-15 years, the MHRA has concluded that the benefits outweigh any risks for use of this vaccine in this age category
Update 20/08/21: The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) have advised that children and young people aged 12 years and above, at increased risk of serious illness from COVID-19, should be offered the Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine
This includes children with severe neurodisabilities, Down’s syndrome, immunosuppression and multiple or severe learning disabilities
It is recommended that children aged 12- 17 years should be offered the vaccine if they live with an immunosuppressed person
Children outside of these groups should not be vaccinated as per current evidence
The Patient Group Direction (PGD) for the Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine and the National protocol for COVID-19 mRNA vaccine BNT126b2 (Pfizer/BioNTech) have been updated in line with the new advice
Pharmacy teams should report any side effects profiles for all UK approved COVID-19 vaccines via the MHRA Yellow Card scheme (this includes children aged 12-15 years) which helps monitor safety
Moderna COVID-19 vaccine approved for use in children aged 12-17 years old
The MHRA has approved the use of the Spikevax (formerly Moderna) COVID-19 vaccine in children aged 12-17 years old
The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) has authorised the use of the Spikevax (formerly known as Moderna) COVID-19 vaccine to be used in children aged 12-17 years old. The vaccine was already authorised to be used in adults aged 18 years and over and has now shown to be safe and effective in the 12-17 year old age group.
Key points for pharmacy teams:
There have been no new side effects identified in children and the safety data obtained for the vaccine was comparable to those seen in young adults
The majority of adverse events were mild to moderate reactogenicity, such as a sore arm or tiredness which is also seen in young adults
The 12- 17 year age group will be included in the comprehensive safety surveillance for monitoring the safety for all UK- approved COVID-19 vaccines
The MHRA granted Conditional Marketing Authorisation (CMA) extension which is valid in Great Britain only and was approved via the European Commission (EC) Decision Reliance Route
The European Medicines Agency has granted the CMA extension to authorise the Spikevax vaccine in children aged 12-17 years in Northern Ireland on 23 July 2021
The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) will now consider if this age category should be vaccinated with the Spikevax (Moderna) vaccine as part of the COVID-19 vaccination programme
Suspected side effects to all UK approved COVID-19 vaccines should be reported via the MHRA Yellow Card scheme (this will include children aged 12-17 years) which helps monitor safety
Please contact the Pharmacy Services team for further advice and support:
Telephone: 01727891800 (Mon-Fri 9am to 6pm, Sat 9am to 1pm)
DHSC announces changes to self-isolation guidance for fully vaccinated adults and children under 18 years old
DHSC have announced that close contacts of positive COVID-19 cases who have been fully vaccinated and children under 18 years old will no longer be required to self-isolate
The Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC), has announced that from 16 August 2021, adults who are fully vaccinated and children under 18 years old who are identified by NHS Test and Trace as close contacts of a positive COVID-19 case will no longer be required to self-isolate. This step has been taken as part of step 4 of the Government’s COVID-19 roadmap.
The NHS England and NHS Improvement (NHSE&I) letter, published on 12 August 2021, outlines the updates made to the Public Health England (PHE) guidance on NHS staff and student self-isolation and return to work following COVID-19 contact. NHSE&I provide guidance on ways to ensure correct safeguards are implemented for healthcare staff, including community pharmacy staff returning to work.
Key points for pharmacy teams:
Fully vaccinated pharmacy staff identified as close contacts of a positive COVID-19 case are not required to self-isolate and can return to work provided the following conditions are met:
They are fully vaccinated
You are considered fully vaccinated 14 days after the final dose of an approved COVID-19 vaccine
They provide a negative polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test result immediately prior to returning to work (pharmacy staff should not return to work whilst awaiting the PCR result)
They commit to undertake subsequent daily lateral flow device (LFD) antigen tests for a minimum of 10 days, which should be negative
The results need to be reported to the NHS Test and Trace web portal and to a senior member of the pharmacy team i.e.…
Extension to Community Pharmacy Vaccination Service (CPVS)
The Community Pharmacy Vaccination Service has been extended to include administration of the Moderna vaccine
The Moderna COVID vaccine is being added to the community pharmacy vaccination service to provide increased accessibility and convenience for eligible patients over 18 years old. The vaccine will be provided from pharmacies that are registered with HSCB to provide the service and it is hoped that it will be available from up to 80 pharmacies when roll out is complete. The NPA has updated its COVID-CPVS SOP to include the Moderna vaccine, and has also provided an SOP for managing the Moderna Thaw and Cold Chain process.
Superintendent update: NHS Community Pharmacy COVID-19 Lateral Flow Device Distribution Advanced Service (Pharmacy Collect) (UPDATED 29/07/2021)
Dear NPA Member,
On 29 March 2021, a new Advanced Service, ‘NHS Community Pharmacy COVID-19 Lateral Flow Device Distribution Service (COVID-19 LFD Distribution Service)’, was commissioned to allow asymptomatic individuals to collect COVID-19 Lateral Flow Device (LFD) test kits from community pharmacies. The service is referred to the public as ‘Pharmacy Collect’ by NHS Test and Trace marketing and communications. The LFD test kits are to be provided free of charge to asymptomatic individuals to identify more people likely to spread the virus; therefore, breaking the chain of transmission, as part of the Government’s COVID-19 roadmap out of lockdown. On 5 April 2021, the Prime Minister announced that everyone in England should have access to free, regular rapid COVID-19 testing from 9 April 2021.
In this update we cover:
Brief overview of the new Advanced Service ( updated 26/07/2021)
NPA support and resources
Other support available
Funding and claiming payments
Ordering and managing stock (updated 29/07/2021)
Brief overview of the new Advanced Service
UPDATE 26/07/21: The service is commissioned until 29 August 2021 after which time, updates to the Service Specification are anticipated following possible insights from those involved in the service, including pharmacy contractors and Government and NHS Test and Trace policy on COVID-19 testing.…
Community pharmacies and face coverings
From 19 July 2021, wearing of face coverings is no longer a legal requirement in indoor settings and public transport
NHS England and NHS improvement (NHSE&I) have advised following the Prime Minister’s announcement that face coverings will be optional from 19 July 2021, that the current Infection Prevention Control (IPC) guidance for healthcare settings remains in place; this guidance is also applicable to community pharmacies. The General Pharmaceutical Council (GPhC) statement issued on the 13 July 2021 on responsibilities for pharmacy owners should also be followed. We recommend that NPA Members continue to follow the NHSE&I and GPhC advice.
The IPC guidance outlines the following:
Face coverings should be worn by patients when entering a healthcare setting; this includes community pharmacies
There should be clear signage and information advising patients and customers of the necessary precautions in place
Staff should maintain 2 metres social distance with patients, or wear Type IIR face masks where this is not possible
Patients with symptoms of COVID-19 should be advised not to enter the pharmacy
Pharmacies are not able to enforce the wearing of face coverings by staff or patients, they can however encourage the use of such precautions to help protect staff, patients and the public. It is appropriate to request someone politely who enters a pharmacy without a face covering if they have one, but if they say they are exempt then the pharmacy can take the patient’s word at face value and continue providing pharmacy services as normal, without asking further questions.
Key points for pharmacy teams
The NPA statement on wearing of face coverings/ masks from 19 July 2021 can be accessed here
Advice on face coverings is available from the Government guidance: “Face coverings: when to wear one, exemptions and how to make your own”
Ensure conversations are conducted in a confidential and polite manner, and staff are mindful and respectful towards individuals and each other when wearing face coverings and Personal Protective Equipment ( PPE)
Employers will need to undertake a thorough risk assessment of the premises, and their staff, in order to decide how to proceed in ensuring continued COVID-security for staff, patients and customers; NPA updated work and individual risk assessments will be available in due course
Exemption to the use of face coverings
Face coverings are not legally required to be worn in any setting, therefore an exemption is not required if one previously existed.…
Further lifting of legal requirements for Covid-19 safety measures in England
From 19 July, there will be a further lifting of legal requirements for Covid-19 safety measures in England.
On 8th July, NHS England advised that following the Prime Minister’s announcement that face coverings will be optional and social distancing will not be necessary from 19th July, it is important to note that the current infection prevention control (IPC) guidance for healthcare settings remains in place. This guidance is applicable to community pharmacies.
The GPhC statement of 13th July advises that “one of the key principles of our standards for registered pharmacies is that the environment and condition of the premises from which pharmacy services are provided, and any associated premises, safeguard the health, safety and wellbeing of patients and the public”. The GPhC asks pharmacy owners to “carefully consider how best they can continue to meet the standards and their ongoing health and safety obligations in order to protect patients and the public and staff.”
Community pharmacies are clinical / healthcare environments, where care is provided face-to-face, sometimes to people who are clinically vulnerable. Individual pharmacy businesses will need to decide how to balance the health risks from COVID-19, maintain staff safety and handle the expectations of patients in their pharmacies.…
Superintendent Update: Lifting of COVID-19 lockdown restrictions from 19 July 2021 (England)
On 12 July 2021, the Government issued guidance for the lifting of COVID-19 lockdown restrictions in England by moving to Step 4 of the roadmap, on 19 July 2021. The Government guidance covers what the lifting of restrictions means, how to remain safe and operate in a COVID-secure manner to prevent the spread of COVID-19. The full guidance can be accessed here.
Though the Government has announced its plans to move forward to Step 4 and lift most restrictions from 19th July 2021, it has been made clear that the lifting of these restrictions does not mean that COVID-19 is no longer a risk to public health as cases of COVID-19 remain high. In light of this, some restrictions will remain in place to protect public health, and prevent the spread of COVID-19, and the Government advises everyone to take appropriate precautions.
In this update we cover:
Brief overview of restrictions that will be lifted
Clinically extremely vulnerable people
Working from home
Getting tested, self-isolation, NHS Test and Trace, and changes to self-isolation requirements
What this means for community pharmacies
1. Brief overview of restrictions that will be lifted
From 19 July 2021, most legal restrictions put in place to control the spread of COVID-19 will be lifted; the full list can be accessed here.…