Wales faces a “ticking time bomb” if work does not begin to commission community pharmacies to administer Covid vaccines, Community Pharmacy Wales chair Mark Griffiths has said.
Mr Griffiths was giving evidence today (February 3) to the Senedd’s health social care and sport committee as part of its review into the impact of the pandemic on the health service.
He said pharmacies are ready and willing to engage with the vaccination programme: “We think once the programme reaches the working population of under-65s, community pharmacies will be best placed to play a key frontline role in vaccinating as many people as possible fro the convenience of high street locations.
“To successfully maximise the roll out to these bigger cohorts with demands on their time, the programme also needs to be underpinned by a patient friendly national booking system linking seamlessly to existing clinical systems.
“This would allow patients to choose the time and place for vaccination which is flexible and convenient to them and help maximise the use of vaccinators in the accessible network of community pharmacies.
“Unless health boards start planning these things now, and commissioning community pharmacies with urgency and pace, then this transition is a ticking time bomb in the vaccine programme.”
Mr Griffiths said that while Welsh Government ministers have frequently made reference to using community pharmacists in mass vaccination centres (MVCs), “they are not necessarily the best place for community pharmacists since if a community pharmacy is without a qualified pharmacist it cannot dispense.
“The last thing anyone would want is that a community pharmacy network that has continued to open and operate for the last 10 months is brought to a standstill by diverting community pharmacists to MVCs.”