Community pharmacies across Northern Ireland have administered more than 35,000 Covid vaccines in the six weeks since the roll-out began.
Some 340 pharmacies started vaccinating people at the end of March, said Community Pharmacy Northern Ireland in a statement today (May 6). Many ran out of vaccine supplies in the first two weeks, although talks between Community Pharmacy Northern Ireland and the Department of Health are ongoing to try to secure more supplies of vaccines for pharmacies.
“Bringing community pharmacy into the Covid-19 vaccination programme has vastly improved access to the vaccine on the high streets of our towns, cities, and villages throughout Northern Ireland,” said CPNI chief executive Gerard Greene.
“Patients have had the option to receive their vaccine from a convenient and familiar health care professional, that they know and trust. The feedback we have been receiving is that patients really welcome the vaccine being available from pharmacies and that is tremendous endorsement for the service.
“Community pharmacies are the best places to reach the public including those in hard-to-reach communities and those in disadvantaged areas. With the level of pharmacies administering the vaccine, no eligible person should have far to travel to become protected against Covid-19.”
Community Pharmacist Sheelin McKeagney, who has been vaccinating patients, said it has been frustrating turning people away because of a lack of vaccines but insisted “being part of the vaccine programme has been a real positive lift for both staff and our patients".
“It has been great to be able to vaccinate our own patients and the familiar faces that we see every day. We know many of our patients prefer not to travel too far to get their vaccine, particularly those in rural areas where it is just not as easy to get to larger vaccination centres,” she said.
“Since the roll-out began, patients have commented that the convenience of getting the vaccine at their local pharmacy is a benefit as it means they can get vaccinated at a convenient time that suits them from a clinician they know locally.
“We are also delighted to be able to offer the vaccine as it means we are able to support our patients and relieve any concerns or anxieties they have.”