Open access article
The Royal Pharmaceutical Society has made this article free to access in order to help healthcare professionals stay informed about an issue of national importance.
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An additional 65 community pharmacy-led vaccination sites will begin administering COVID-19 vaccines over the coming week.
The sites, 55 of which are led by independent pharmacies, include the Manchester Whalley Range Tennis and Cricket Club, run by Wilbraham Pharmacy, and pop-up Odeon and Village Hotel sites operated by Pharmacy2U.
They will join the first six community pharmacy vaccination sites, which opened on 14 January 2021.
NHS England said additional sites run by Retrolink Pharmacy and Jardines Pharmacy in Bedfordshire will expand vaccine availability to areas previously not covered by a vaccination site.
Meanwhile, newly opened sites in a Birmingham mosque and Lincoln Pharmacy in Tower Hamlets, east London, will “play a major role vaccinating groups shown to be at higher risk of mortality from coronavirus”, it said in a statement.
Olivier Picard, owner of Newdays Pharmacy, who is opening a vaccination site in Marlow, Buckinghamshire, said: “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 doable, and we’re proud to be taking part in this vital programme.”
Raj Patel, owner of Hollowood Chemists in the northwest of England, who is also opening vaccination sites this week, said he has “set up our three vaccination sites in a matter of weeks”.
“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,” he said.
Both Picard and Patel are board members for the National Pharmacy Association (NPA).
Andrew Lane, chair of the NPA, said the new sites represent “a significant expansion of COVID-19 vaccination sites, but pharmacies can ultimately go a lot further to protect the population”.
“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,” he said.
Leyla Hannbeck, chief executive of the Association of Independent Multiple Pharmacies, said she was “delighted to see more pharmacy-led COVID-19 vaccination sites bursting into life today and many of our members being among them”.
“However, among over 11,000 pharmacies across England not currently giving vaccines, many more of our members and pharmacies across the UK are equally determined and willing to play their part in this national effort,” she said.
“The government has unequivocally signified ‘watch this space, we will utilise the pharmacy network’. We are committed to working with the government and NHS England colleagues to make this a reality soon.”
The Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee said in a statement on 10 January 2021 that pharmacy trade bodies were working with the government “on plans to ensure that community pharmacies are used to maximum effect in the COVID-19 vaccination programme”.
Malcolm Harrison, chief executive of the Company Chemists’ Association, said the new sites are “welcome”, but added that they “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-19”.
“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,” he said, adding that he is confident the sector could deliver more than 15 million jabs of the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine “by the end of June”.
“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.”
Claire Anderson, chair of the Royal Pharmaceutical Society’s English Pharmacy Board, said: “It’s fantastic and inspiring to see the speedy progress being made due to the clinical skills of pharmacists.
“Community pharmacies are often at the heart of deprived areas, where there are higher levels of health challenges and vaccine hesitancy,” she added.