The number of community pharmacy vaccination sites offering COVID-19 booster vaccines in England will rise to 1,300 over the next few weeks, The Pharmaceutical Journal understands.
In July 2021, NHS England announced that it would commission an additional 1,000 pharmacy-led vaccination sites to assist with the rollout of COVID-19 booster doses.
Pharmacies signing up to the booster campaign were asked to submit expressions of interest by 28 July 2021, even if they were already offering the first two COVID-19 vaccination doses.
According to the latest data published by NHS England, as of 13 October 2021, there were 1,160 community pharmacy-led COVID-19 vaccination sites in total.
However, The Pharmaceutical Journal understands that this will increase over the next few weeks, with COVID-19 booster vaccines soon to be offered from 1,300 community pharmacy-led sites.
Commenting on the figures, a spokesperson from the National Pharmacy Association said: “Pharmacies are well placed for delivering booster COVID-19 vaccinations, allowing GPs to focus on clearing the care backlog in the NHS.”
“There is no good reason why thousands more pharmacies can’t take part in the programme,” they added.
“This would offer greater access and choice for patients in terms of appointment time and location.”
Leyla Hannbeck, chief executive of the Association of Independent Multiple Pharmacies, added: “Many of our members are involved in delivering the COVID-19 booster programme and the feedback from patients has been incredible.
“Pharmacy has clearly demonstrated that it can be counted on and the sector has played an important role in the vaccination programme.”
NHS England began offering COVID-19 booster jabs on 20 September 2021 to all those who were vaccinated during ‘phase 1’ of the COVID-19 vaccination programme, in the same order of cohorts as was offered for the first two doses the of the vaccine.
The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) advised in September 2021 that the booster should be offered no earlier than six months after a patient’s second COVID-19 vaccination.
Since then, Boots has said it would be offering COVID-19 booster vaccinations at 55 of its pharmacies in England from 4 October 2021, while Well pharmacy announced that it would be offering booster jabs from 60 of its branches.