Health boards say around half of pharmacies have expressed interest in providing COVID-19 vaccines

Exclusive: Five of the seven health boards in Wales confirmed they had received expressions of interest from community pharmacies to participate in the national COVID-19 vaccination programme.
covid-19 vaccine being administered

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Around half of Wales’ community pharmacies have expressed interest to some health boards in providing COVID-19 vaccinations as part of the national programme.

Five of the seven health boards in Wales confirmed to The Pharmaceutical Journal they had received expressions of interest from community pharmacies to participate in the national vaccination programme.

Two boards have said they will commission pharmacies to provide the vaccinations once vaccine supply increases.

Community pharmacy contractors in Wales were invited to express interest in providing the Oxford/AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccination to patients under a new government immunisation service, which came into force on 18 December 2020.

The Primary Care COVID-19 Immunisation Service (PCCIS) enables pharmacists to enter into a contract with their local health board to deliver the COVID-19 vaccination to patients.

Currently, four community pharmacies in Wales — located in Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board (BCUHB) — are able to provide COVID-19 vaccinations, with Community Pharmacy Wales previously calling for “urgency and pace” in commissioning more pharmacies to vaccinate patients against COVID-19.

Adam Mackridge, strategic lead for community pharmacy at BCUHB, said that it had received expressions of interest from “around half of community pharmacies in North Wales”.

According to the latest data from the Welsh government, BCUHB had 152 community pharmacies in 2019–2020.

“We continue to work with other community pharmacy teams to help them to prepare for commissioning once vaccine supplies increase sufficiently,” said Mackridge.

A spokesperson from Cwm Taf Morgannwg University Health Board also said that “nearly half” of its community pharmacies submitted expressions of interest.

The health board, which had 110 community pharmacies in 2019–2020, added that it “is very pleased that there is a good level of interest and support from community pharmacy contractors, and we are currently considering this in our forward plans”.

Aneurin Bevan University Health Board confirmed that it has received 53 expressions of interest from community pharmacies, while Swansea Bay University Health Board said it had received “a significant number” of expressions of interest that they are “working through”.

Cardiff and Vale University Health Board (CAVUHB) said that “over 40” of its 106 community pharmacy sites had submitted an expression of interest.

CAVUHB added that it is “continuing to engage with primary care contractors, including community pharmacies, to help support the mass vaccination programme for our population; and as vaccine supply increases, we will be utilising our community pharmacy teams to support us in our delivery”.

On 2 February 2021, Vaughan Gething, the health minister, described vaccine supply as “the limiting step” to using community pharmacies more widely in the vaccination programme.

A spokesperson for Hywel Dda University Health Board said it was “not in a position to respond” to The Pharmaceutical Journal’s queries, while Powys University Health Board did not respond in time for publication.

Last updated
The Pharmaceutical Journal, February 2021;Online:DOI:10.1211/PJ.2021.20208801