Doctors urged to administer flu vaccines appropriately


For immediate release: Wednesday, 12 November 2014

UK-wide medical defence organisation MDDUS are reminding doctors to ensure flu vaccinations are administered and delegated appropriately.

Public Health England and NHS Health Scotland launched their seasonal flu campaigns last month, encouraging all those at-risk groups eligible for the vaccine free on the NHS to contact their GP or pharmacist.

MDDUS receives numerous advice calls with regards to administering flu vaccines, especially at this time of year. These queries range from questions regarding clinical competence to issues of consent when administering vaccines to children.

However, many calls concern the role of healthcare assistants (HCAs) in providing flu vaccinations. MDDUS adviser Dr Caroline Osborne-White reminds doctors to ensure those administering vaccines are entitled to do so.

“We have dealt with a number of calls from members asking if healthcare assistants can administer flu vaccinations,” says Dr Osborne-White. “Our response is that they cannot do so under a patient group direction (PGD), but there are certain circumstances where healthcare assistants can provide flu jabs.”

PGDs are written instructions for the supply and/or administration of a named licensed medicine for a defined clinical condition to groups of patients who may not be individually identified before presentation for treatment. They are only to be used by qualified and authorised healthcare professionals.

The Medicines Act 1968 defines an “authorised” person as one who is professionally regulated. HCAs do not fall into that category and are thus not allowed to supply or administer prescription-only medicines under a PGD.

“Suitably trained healthcare assistants would, however, be able to administer a flu vaccine via a patient specific direction (PSD) for an individually named patient,” says Dr Osborne-White.

“A PSD is a written instruction that includes the name of the patient as well as name, dose and frequency of the prescription-only medicine to be administered. It should be signed by the doctor (or other independent prescriber) in order for the medicine to be administered to the specific patient, who has been individually assessed by the prescriber.

“As the prescriber, the doctor is professionally accountable and must be fully satisfied that the person carrying out the task is suitably trained and has the competence and experience to provide the relevant care or treatment.”

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For further information contact Richard Hendry on 0845 270 2034 or 07976 272266, or email

Note to editors

MDDUS (The Medical and Dental Defence Union of Scotland) is a medical and dental defence organisation providing access to professional indemnity and expert medico- and dento-legal advice for doctors, dentists and other healthcare professionals throughout the UK. For further information on MDDUS go to

This page was correct at the time of publication. Any guidance is intended as general guidance for members only. If you are a member and need specific advice relating to your own circumstances, please contact one of our advisers.

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