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The first community pharmacy in Wales will deliver a COVID-19 vaccine this week, ahead of a roll out to pharmacies “in all parts” of the country, Mark Drakeford, the first minister of Wales has said.
Speaking to the Welsh Assembly about COVID-19 vaccine delivery, Drakeford said a community pharmacy in north Wales would be the first from the sector to administer a vaccine.
He added that this was part of a “test” before community pharmacies are involved more widely.
“The first community pharmacy to deliver the vaccine will be [administering it] by the end of this week, and that will be in north Wales,” said Drakeford, speaking on 12 January 2021.
“There are … some practical things that have got to be sorted out, and you’ve got to have a bit of a chance to make sure that everything is being done in the best and safest way.”
“We will test that with community pharmacy in north Wales before the end of this week, and then we will want to use community pharmacists in all parts of Wales,” he continued.
The Welsh government passed legislation enabling community pharmacies, and other primary care providers, to enter into agreements with local health boards to provide the primary care COVID-19 immunisation scheme.
Drakeford added that “every single GP practice in the Hywel Dda [health board] area has signed up to deliver the vaccine and we will be deploying community pharmacists as well”.
Elen Jones, director for the Royal Pharmaceutical Society (RPS) in Wales, said the RPS is “very supportive of utilising the skills of the community pharmacy sector in the COVID-19 vaccination programme”.
”We welcome the Welsh government’s approach as outlined in the recently published vaccination strategy. We appreciate the need to test out a model of delivery before a wider roll out of community pharmacy engagement across Wales,” she said.
“This is a complex picture and we appreciate there will be unique logistical challenges for community pharmacies and across each health board area. It is important that arrangements are clear, efficient and effective, and that models of delivery are put in place as quickly as possible across Wales to support the critical vaccination programme.”
Drakeford’s comments come as community pharmacy-led vaccination sites in England are also due to start administering vaccines during the week commencing 11 January 2021.
Boots previously confirmed that it will be running three vaccination centres in Halifax, West Yorkshire, Huddersfield, West Yorkshire and Gloucester, while Superdrug announced that it will operate five vaccination sites “in the north and south of England”.
Speaking to the BBC on 13 January 2021, Toby Anderson, chief executive officer of McKesson UK — the parent company of LloydsPharmacy — said it had offered to set up five vaccination sites, with one approved by NHS England.
“We’re working on submitting a further five [sites for approval] in the next day or so, taking the number up to ten,” he said, adding that he has been in talks with the government “because we do believe that LloydsPharmacy — and community pharmacy — can do much more”.
“A small adjustment to the requirements — for example, only doing 500 jabs per site per week (and I’m talking about the AstraZeneca vaccine, which has different refrigeration requirements and can therefore be kept in smaller quantities) — means a company like Lloyds could easily do 150,000 vaccines a week from, say, 600 pharmacy locations around the country,” Anderson explained.
Currently, NHS England requires each local vaccination site run by community pharmacies to administer 1,000 vaccinations per week.