Community Pharmacy and COVID-19 Vaccinations Update

Community Pharmacy and COVID-19 Vaccinations Update

January 10, 2021

The Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC), NHS England and NHS Improvement (NHSE&I) and the community pharmacy bodies have agreed to work together on plans to ensure that community pharmacies are used to maximum effect in the COVID-19 vaccination programme.

All parties agree on the benefits of using more community pharmacies in the national vaccination effort, recognising that for some patients, pharmacies will offer a convenient setting in which to be vaccinated in due course. The sector should be able to build on its success in contributing to the NHS flu vaccination programme, noting that there are considerable additional complexities with COVID-19 vaccinations meaning that not every pharmacy is likely to be involved.

Parliamentary under Secretaries of State Nadhim Zahawi and Jo Churchill, and the NHS, have once again this week expressed their support for the sector and their gratitude for all that community pharmacy teams have been doing throughout the pandemic.

In line with NHSE&I planning, pharmacy bodies and the NHS will now work together on a plan for the wider involvement of more pharmacies in the vaccination programme. This will involve scoping what is feasible for the sector, as well as working through how pharmacies can best be used to complement the existing network of larger vaccination sites, and looking at timings and the numbers of pharmacies likely to be involved.

All parties recognise that pharmacies (beyond those selected by NHSE&I as local vaccination sites) will not be able to start doing this immediately – the first priority is to get all the mass vaccination sites up and running, and secondary sites like pharmacies will follow soon.

However, all agreed that working up the plans now, and enabling contractors to consider the plans and to prepare in advance, would be beneficial. This will allow pharmacies to begin vaccinating as soon as the time is right for them to contribute to the national effort.

Simon Dukes, PSNC Chief Executive, said:

“Last week saw renewed interest in the role that community pharmacies can play in the COVID-19 vaccination programme following PSNC’s national media push, and we were pleased to hear Ministers as well as Boris Johnson confirming that there will be a role for the sector to play.

While it is positive that some pharmacies have already been selected by NHSE&I as local vaccination sites, we want to see the sector playing a far bigger role than this so we are pleased to have a commitment from all sides to work together on a plan. The pharmacy organisations are already working up proposals for this.

PSNC’s ambition is for many thousands of pharmacies to be used to deliver the AstraZeneca vaccine, which is logistically more suited to community settings. We know that patients will value this; that community pharmacies can do this; and that this would make a significant contribution to the national vaccination efforts. We hope to be able to share plans for this with contractors very soon so that they can make the necessary preparations and be ready to get going as soon as there is enough vaccine supply to enable smaller community vaccination sites like pharmacies to be stood up.”

Read about PSNC’s national media work calling for a wider role for pharmacies in the COVID-19 vaccination programme

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