A Boots branch, a Superdrug store and four independent pharmacies have this morning (Thursday January 14) kicked off the community pharmacy arm of the UK’s coronavirus vaccination campaign.
The six pharmacies are the “first of hundreds” that will eventually offer Covid-19 vaccinations, NHS England & Improvement said today, with two hundred to commence operations over the next two weeks.
“Stores capable of delivering large volumes, while allowing for social distancing, are initially being selected to give the best geographical spread,” NHSE&I explained.
The pilot sites are: a Boots branch in Halifax; Andrews Pharmacy in Macclesfield; a Superdrug branch in Guildford; Appleton Village Pharmacy in Widnes; Cullimore Chemist in Edgewar; and Woodside Pharmacy in Telford.
Health secretary Matt Hancock said: “It is fantastic that high-street pharmacies will now begin deploying COVID-19 vaccinations. Pharmacies sit at the heart of local communities and will make a big difference to our rollout programme by providing even more local, convenient places for those that are eligible to get their jab.”
Deputy chief pharmaceutical officer Bruce Warner said: “Pharmacy teams have been working incredibly hard throughout the pandemic and as we accelerate the vaccination programme they are playing a vital role in delivering the life-saving jabs to those in their communities.
“We know that people are very keen to get the vaccine but we are appealing to people not to turn up early so that we can maintain social distancing.”
PSNC chief executive Simon Dukes said the negotiator “looks forward to seeing more pharmacies involved in the programme in due course,” while the National Pharmacy Association, Company Chemists’ Association and Association of Independent Multiple Pharmacies all said they were pleased some of their member pharmacies had been approved as pharmacy-led vaccination sites.
The trade organisations also called on the Government to act quickly to widen the programme to include more community pharmacies, with CCA chief Malcolm Harrison saying: “We want to build on this success and work with the NHS in England to make greater use of the army of community pharmacists who can administer the Oxford AstraZeneca vaccine.
“It requires similar storage and administration to the annual flu vaccines which community pharmacies have a track record of providing safely and at scale.”
AIMp chief executive Leyla Hannbeck added: “We are concerned that the target of 13.9M may not be met by mid-unless many more of the nation’s accessible high street pharmacies… are able to offer the vaccine.”
Earlier this week Labour leader Keir Starmer urged the Government to use pharmacies to help start vaccinating people on a 24/7 basis.