The PSI has approved the HSE National Immunisation Office (NIO) training for the Covid-19 vaccination programme. Completion of this training will allow pharmacists who are experienced vaccinators to participate in the initial phase of the national Covid-19 Vaccination Programme, which involves delivering vaccines in vaccination centres within the structure of a vaccination team. The NIO training is available through HSEland, the Health Service Executive’s online learning and development portal.

Pharmacists have been delivering influenza vaccination in pharmacies since 2011. Pharmacists who have participated in the most recent flu vaccination season and who vaccinated patients in the last 12 months are considered experienced vaccinators and are eligible for the training. To participate, they must also be up-to-date in CPR training, responding to anaphylaxis and responding to an emergency situation and management of anaphylaxis (RESMA).

At time of writing, the NIO training covers the Comirnaty (Pfizer/Biontech) and Moderna Covid-19 vaccines, the vaccines currently being used in the initial roll-out phase of the national vaccination programme. However, the PSI confirmed that it is ready to examine the further training requirements for pharmacists as other vaccines are included in the national vaccination programme to facilitate pharmacists’ continuing, and increasing, participation. 

Further vaccines, such as the AstraZeneca vaccine, currently undergoing regulatory assessment, are expected to be the focus when the national vaccination programme is extended to the mass-vaccination stage involving primary care services, such as GPs and community pharmacists.

The PSI said it is currently participating in a Working Group with the HSE and the Irish Pharmacy Union to facilitate and support this wider roll-out across the community pharmacy sector.