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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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Community pharmacies in six locations in England have become the first in the sector to start administering COVID-19 vaccines.
The pharmacies, which started vaccinating patients on 14 January 2021, are the first of 200 pharmacy-led vaccination sites, which are expected to open in the coming two weeks.
The six locations include sites led by multiples Boots in Halifax, West Yorkshire, and Superdrug in Guildford, Surrey, as well as four independent pharmacies: Andrews Pharmacy in Macclesfield, Cheshire, Appleton Village Pharmacy in Widnes, Cheshire, Cullimore Chemist in Edgware, north London, and Woodside Pharmacy in Telford, Shropshire.
Pharmacy-led vaccination sites will each need to administer 1,000 vaccinations per week, under NHS England requirements.
According to a statement from Boots, its site will administer the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine and will operate from specially designed facilities in the Halifax store.
Boots will open two additional vaccination sites in Huddersfield, West Yorkshire and Gloucester, the multiple has said.
Seb James, managing director of Boots UK, said: “As we begin vaccinations at our Halifax pharmacy today, we are incredibly proud to support the NHS during this extraordinary time.”
He added that community pharmacies “are extremely well placed to support the rollout of this vaccine quickly and safely, and we stand ready to do much more”.
Pharmacists and nurses at the Superdrug site will also be administering the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine and working from 08:00 to 20:00, seven days per week.
Michael Henry, healthcare director at Superdrug, said the multiple’s Guildford site “is the first of five current Superdrug sites to support the NHS with the rollout of its critical vaccination programme and we are in active discussions for additional vaccination sites through further pharmacy involvement”.
NHS England has said that 70 more pharmacy-led sites will open next week, with “hundreds opening by the end of the month”.
According to slides published by NHS England, following a webinar on 12 January 2021, a second wave of pharmacy vaccination sites will open during the week commencing 18 January 2021, while a third wave of sites will open during the week commencing 25 January 2021.
Second- and third-wave sites will receive vaccine supplies on Wednesday, Thursday or Friday during their week of commencement, and can start vaccinating the following day, the slides say.
Bruce Warner, deputy chief pharmaceutical officer, said: “Pharmacy teams have been working incredibly hard throughout the pandemic and, as we accelerate the vaccination programme, they are playing a vital role in delivering the life-saving jabs to those in their communities.”
Leyla Hannbeck, chief executive of the Association of Independent Multiple Pharmacies, added that she was “delighted to see that a number of our members have had their pharmacy-led sites approved to participate in this historic vaccination programme”.
“This demonstrates the sheer determination and willingness of pharmacy teams to support the rest of the NHS to vaccinate the nation,” she said.
Claire Anderson, chair of the Royal Pharmaceutical Society’s English Pharmacy Board, said the pharmacy-led vaccination sites are “a welcome step towards their skills being used more widely to support vaccinations in their local communities”.
“Pharmacy teams in hospital, primary care and the community are working flat out to support the nation’s health, and we look forward to further expansion of the vaccination programme through pharmacy to benefit patients.”
Simon Dukes, chief executive of the Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee (PSNC), said: “It is fantastic to see the first community pharmacy COVID-19 vaccination sites going live this week and we look forward to seeing more pharmacies involved in the programme in due course.”
The PSNC 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”.