Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine to be made available privately through community pharmacies

The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency has approved a change of licence for the Comirnaty COVID-19 vaccine, which will allow it to become the first to be available privately in the UK.
vaccine being drawn from vial

Pfizer has announced that its COVID-19 vaccine will be available for supply to community pharmacies and private healthcare providers from March 2024.

Until now, COVID-19 vaccines in the UK have only been available through the NHS national immunisation programme (NIP).

The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) announced on 9 February 2024 that it has granted approval for a packaging and labelling variation for the Pfizer-BioNTech Comirnaty vaccine, allowing the vaccine to be packaged for individual use rather than in the multiple dose vials supplied to the NHS.

A spokesperson for Pfizer said the jab was being made available privately “in response to the ongoing impact of COVID-19 and demand for the vaccine”.

“Pfizer has worked tirelessly with multiple stakeholders at speed and is delighted to confirm that, from March 2024, the public should be able to buy the same vaccine provided to the NHS as part of the NIP from local pharmacies and private healthcare providers,” they said.

Pharmacies and private providers will set their own sale price for providing the vaccines to the public.

John McGinley, primary care lead at Pfizer UK, said: “As set out in NHS England’s vaccination strategy, enabling the provision of our vaccine for sale to the public does not influence the scope or supply of the NHS programme but offers the public greater choice and accessibility to the same vaccine as the NHS.

“We are extremely proud to have provided the world’s first COVID-19 vaccine in the UK during the pandemic, back in 2020, and we are delighted to be the first company, in this country, to facilitate availability of our COVID-19 vaccine for the public to buy.” 

Pharmacy clinical service provider Pharmadoctor announced in February 2024 that it was launching the a private COVID-19 vaccination service.

Pharmacies offering the service will deliver the Novavax COVID-19 vaccine to members of the public from £45 per jab, with vaccines available for delivery by 1 April 2024.

On 7 February 2024, the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) advised that a COVID-19 jab should be offered on the NHS in spring 2024 to those most at risk of serious illness, including people aged over 75 years; residents in care homes for older adults; and immunosuppressed individuals aged over six months.

Community pharmacies in England have been offered an extra £2.50 per COVID-19 jab, in addition to the existing item of service fee of £7.54, if they take part in an NHS spring vaccination campaign, which could run following the JCVI advice.

Figures published by NHS England on 6 December 2023 show there were 3,511 community pharmacies signed up to deliver COVID-19 vaccinations between 1 September 2023 and 31 March 2024, as part of the autumn booster programme.
Last updated
The Pharmaceutical Journal, PJ, February 2024, Vol 312, No 7982;312(7982)::DOI:10.1211/PJ.2024.1.226561

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