A pharmacist has received a British Citizen Award for services to healthcare in recognition of his work in public health pharmacy, in particular during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Viral Doshi, who splits his time between community pharmacy and working in public health for Hillingdon Council, was presented with his award on 31 January 2023 in London by TV presenter Nick Knowles, patron of the British Citizen Awards.
The awards are supported by the NHS and the British Red Cross, among several other organisations.
Doshi said the award was “fantastic — not just for myself but for the profession of pharmacy as well”.
“I was absolutely astounded — I was truly humbled to receive this award. I was delighted with the award and felt so glad the profession has been put on a bit of a pedestal.”
When the COVID-19 vaccine roll-out began in December 2020, Doshi worked to get a community centre — the Navnat Centre in Hayes, west London — set up as a vaccination hub. It was so successful that 80,000 people received their vaccines there, well above the average for that area of London.
“It’s an area of high health need with a multi-ethnic population and a lot of social deprivation. We had high rates of COVID-19 infection and also vaccine hesitancy,” he said.
He recognised that the centre’s excellent accessibility made it perfect for the job.
“There is a huge car park so people could arrive safely, go inside and get vaccinated then leave safely,” he said.
He ensured the centre had multilingual staff on hand to talk to people about any concerns they had in their first language and addressed vaccine hesitancy through a YouTube video. He also drove some older and vulnerable people to their appointments on his days off.
The successful project is part of Doshi’s drive to take pharmacists’ expertise out of the pharmacy to improve lives on a population level. He has also spoken at educational events across the country for multidisciplinary groups.
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Viral, congratulations on this amazing achievement. Your work has been an inspiration to your fellow colleagues, not only with the vaccine rollout, but with your broad portfolio of public health work which has enhanced the provision of public health services nationally and strengthened the reputation of the profession.