Sixty-five more covid-19 vaccination sites are going live over the coming days, in pharmacies and other pharmacist-led sites across England.
The news comes after it was announced recently that Boots, Superdrug and several independent stores were to be the first group of community pharmacies to offer vaccinations protecting against Covid-19.
The first six pharmacy sites went live on 14th January, including four independent pharmacies. Many of this second tranche of sites are also run by independent pharmacists, although some national chains are also bringing sites on stream.
The news has been welcomed by multiple pharmacy representation organisations.
Andrew Lane, chair of the National Pharmacy Association, said:
“This represents a significant expansion of covid vaccination sites, but pharmacies can ultimately go a lot further to protect the population. England’s network of 11,500 community pharmacies is a formidable asset in our collective response to the covid-19 pandemic. They are collectively capable of protecting millions of people if given the chance. “I believe pharmacists are going to be sprinters and marathon runners in the race to vaccinate the whole adult population by the autumn and then keep people protected into the future.”
Olivier Picard, the owner of Newdays Pharmacy, is opening a vaccine site in Marlow, Buckinghamshire. He said:
“I’m doing this to help kick covid into touch. By offering more choice, in a convenient location, we’ll be making a big contribution locally. As soon as bookings were enabled through the National Booking System, we quickly became fully subscribed so there’s no doubt that people trust pharmacists to protect them. It’s a daunting prospect but perfectly do-able and we’re proud to be taking part in this vital programme.”
Olivier Picard is one of two members of the NPA board who are opening vaccination sites this week. The other is Raj Patel, owner of Hollowood Chemists in the North West of England.
Raj Patel said:
“We have set up our three vaccination sites in a matter of weeks, which has only been possible with the active support of the local communities we serve, including local councils and business owners. Everyone has stepped up to plate and it’s shown the power of coming together in the common good, as well as the responsiveness of community pharmacists.”
Commenting on today’s news, Malcolm Harrison, Chief Executive of the Company Chemists Association said:
“We welcome the addition of new community pharmacy sites to the Covid vaccine programme. However, the sites that are involved so far are the ‘tip of the iceberg’ in terms of how the community pharmacy network in England could be mobilised to protect their local communities against Covid.
“We are urging the NHS to fully use the existing network of community pharmacies as part of the vaccine programme.
“The Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine requires similar storage and administration to the annual flu vaccines which community pharmacies have a track record of providing safely and at scale. We are confident that they could deliver more than 15 million jabs with this vaccine by the end of June.
“Using the established network of pharmacies would bring the vaccine into local communities, meaning older people and those in at-risk groups can be vaccinated much closer to home.
“We have shared a model with the NHS that will allow them to make use of pharmacies across the country to vaccinate the population and reach the target of 13.9 million vaccinations by mid-February. We very much hope that this model will be ready to be deployed as further supplies of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine are available. However, time is not on our side and we, therefore, need decisions to be made soon about how this could work.”
RPS England Board Chair Claire Anderson said:
“It’s a proud day as more and more pharmacists help ramp up the NHS vaccination programme by providing sites where local people can get their COVID19 vaccine. It’s fantastic and inspiring to see the speedy progress being made due to the clinical skills of pharmacists.
“The professionalism of pharmacists across hospital, GP practice and community sites who have stepped up to the challenge has been extraordinary. A huge amount of behind-the-scenes work has been done by colleagues across all sectors to make all the sites a success.
“Community pharmacies are often at the heart of deprived areas where there are higher levels of health challenges and vaccine hesitancy. Local pharmacies are trusted by their communities and can help encourage vaccine uptake through established relationships with their local populations.
“We all want to see priority groups, including pharmacists and their teams, vaccinated as quickly as possible to help reduce the effects of this terrible virus.”