pharmacy minister Maria Caulfield
Pharmacy minister Maria Caulfield

The newly appointed pharmacy minister Maria Caulfied got her flu jab at the S G Barai Pharmacy in Sutton this week.

During her visit, Caulfield met pharmacist Reena Barai, owner of the pharmacy and a board member of the National Pharmacy Association, and discussed challenges faced by pharmacies during the pandemic.

Caulfied was appointed as the health minister in September following a cabinet reshuffle, with a portfolio covering pharmacy as well as patient safety and primary care.

During their discussion, Barai highlighted the increase in demand for pharmacy services during the pandemic.

In a video message posted on Twitter following the visit, Caulfield encouraged people to come forward and take their flu jabs from the nearby community pharmacy.

“Do think about coming to your local pharmacist for your vaccine, because it’s really important as we head into winter, that we vaccinate as many people as possible.”

She advised people to see their local pharmacists for minor ailments and infections “because they are extremely experienced and qualified and can give you some great advice and support.”

Caulfield met with pharmacy staff and some patients who visited the pharmacy while she was there.

Currently, the pharmacy is offering flu jabs and Covid vaccination services.

Barai has been giving about 350 boosters a week and 100 to 200 flu jabs, and has almost run out of her flu jabs stock.

On amplified demand this season, Barai said: “We are seeing a massive increase in demand for flu jabs. Pharmacies have done nearly three million so far this year. Last time this year we had done 1.7 million.

“At the moment we have got a trickle of supply. We all pre-ordered our supplies last year. These will run out quite soon. We have got a few coming in, but we could do more patients if we got them.”

Caulfield said the government is promoting a “pharmacy first” system for Covid and flu vaccinations, blood tests and smoking cessation services.

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