Leading pharmacy organisations today united behind the Department of Health campaign urging pharmacists and other front line health and social care professionals to take up the offer of vaccination against H1N1 swine influenza.

First deliveries of the vaccine will be sent to NHS Acute Trusts from tomorrrow. With cases of swine flu on the rise, pharmacists are being advised to get vaccinated to protect their health, and ensure services can be maintained during a time of heavy demand.

David Pruce, Director of Policy and Communications at the Royal Pharmaceutical Society said: "It's essential that all pharmacists who work directly with patients and the public get their swine flu vaccination as soon as possible.

"Without vaccination, pharmacists will be putting at risk not just their own health, but that of their patients and colleagues too. Without a high take up of the vaccine, health services could be devastated just at the time when patients need them most."

Rob Darracott, Chief Executive of the Company Chemists' Association commented: "Pharmacists found themselves in the front line with phase one, and responded admirably. With clear signs that phase two is on the way just as the vaccines arrive, the message is clear - when vaccination is offered to you, accept."

Sue Sharpe, Chief Executive Officer of the Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee said: "In a pandemic we need community pharmacies to continue to operate to provide care to all patients, including those with 'flu. As the most accessible front line professionals, pharmacists need to try to ensure they keep healthy, so I urge them to accept vaccination."

John Turk, Chief Executive of the National Pharmacy Association said: "Community pharmacists have already demonstrated their dedicated and professional response to the swine flu pandemic. Getting vaccinated is the single most important thing pharmacists and their staff can do to help the NHS stay ahead of the game during what could be a challenging time.

"The bottom line is that by getting vaccinated pharmacists are protecting their own health, their colleagues and patients too - as well as their families."

Royal Pharmaceutical Society of Great Britain (RPSGB)

The RPSGB is the professional and regulatory body for pharmacists in England, Scotland and Wales. The primary objectives of the RPSGB are to lead, regulate, develop and represent the profession of pharmacy.

Company Chemists Association (CCA)

Through the CCA, its member companies work together to create an environment where community pharmacy can flourish, and where pharmacy contractors compete in a fair and equitable way. Our nine companies - Alliance Boots, Co-operative Group Pharmacy, Lloyds pharmacy, Tesco, J Sainsbury, Wm Morrison Supermarkets, Asda Wal-Mart, Rowlands Pharmacy and Superdrug - together operate over 6,000 pharmacies in the United Kingdom.

Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee (PSNC)

The PSNC is the body recognised by the Secretary of State for Health as representing community pharmacy owners in England on NHS matters. It negotiates the national community pharmacy contractual terms with the Department of Health and the NHS.

The National Pharmacy Association (NPA)

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