Following the news that the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) has approved the Pfizer BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine for rollout in the UK from next week, the RPS is calling for the safety of pharmacy teams and their patients to be prioritised by ensuring that teams receive the vaccination at the same time as other health professionals.
In a statement on pharmacists’ role in the vaccination programme, RPS recognises that any vaccination strategy must minimise disruption to routine practice across all sectors and ensure that patients can still access the medicines, services and health care they need, whilst utilising the expertise and leadership of pharmacists from all sectors of the NHS to deliver the Covid-19 vaccination.
It also highlights how pharmacists can help with strategic planning, oversight of vaccination distribution arrangements as well as operational roles in preparation for the vaccine programme rollout.
Other key points in the statement highlight the importance of:
- The role of pharmacists in providing information to the general public about the vaccine to maximise its uptake
- Using the skills of pharmacists in all sectors as part of a networked approach.
- Encouraging collaboration between health professionals
- Undertaking vaccination training and access up to date information about the vaccines
- Guaranteed supply of clinical consumables used for vaccinations
Sandra Gidley, President of the RPS, said:
“It is welcome news to all that a COVID-19 vaccination has been approved for widespread use in UK and we are now taking steps to understand the logistical arrangements for the vaccine programme. It is crucial that those at high risk from COVID-19 are vaccinated as soon as possible, in what is already being described as the largest vaccination campaign this country will have ever seen.
“Pharmacists have the expertise to play a crucial role in administering COVID-19 vaccinations, having delivered on many effective flu vaccination programmes in the past. We need assurances from the NHS and governments that the programme will not disrupt our already stretched workforce but make way for greater collaboration between health professionals and minimise the impact on routine practice.
“Safety is absolutely our number one priority, both for patients and for those administrating the vaccine. Pharmacists and their teams have been caring for the public and exposing themselves to the virus all through the pandemic, so it’s only fair that they are protected with this vaccine and continue to receive all forms of protective equipment.”