State of play: Covid-19 vaccines
Significant Covid-19 vaccination milestones are being reached, but where does community pharmacy currently find itself with regards to the rollout?
Over 10 million people – around 15 per cent of the UK population – have been given a first dose of the Covid-19 vaccine and there have been positive steps taken to include community pharmacy in the rollout, with around 200 sites currently involved at the time of writing.
On 28 January, Asda became the first UK supermarket to launch Covid-19 vaccinations at an in-store pharmacy in Cape Hill in the West Midlands, followed by a second site in Watford, Hertfordshire, shortly after. All 238 in-store pharmacies are on standby to help roll out the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine.
“Our highly-trained pharmacy colleagues are experienced in delivering large vaccination programmes, having recently provided nearly 200,000 flu jabs to members of the public,” said Roger Burnley, Asda CEO and president. “We are on hand to provide the NHS with any practical support required so that more people can quickly receive the vaccine.”
Other pharmacy groups and retailers are also joining the vaccination drive. Boots opened vaccination sites at its stores in Halifax, Gloucester and Huddersfield in January, which it hopes is the start of a nationwide rollout over the coming months. In addition, on 4 February, Avicenna launched a vaccination centre in Swindon, aiming to vaccinate 800 people per week. The company’s lead pharmacist Angela Mavalla, said: “Pharmacies are within walking distance of many people’s homes, and I know that some of our local residents, particularly those who are less mobile, will appreciate having a choice of a more local venue for their vaccine.”
Call for more
While an increasing number of pharmacies are involved, the Pharmacists’ Defence Association has called on the Government to use all 13,500 community pharmacies in the country to deliver second doses of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine to speed up administration.
This notion is felt across the nation, with Wales facing a “ticking time bomb” if work to commission community pharmacies to administer Covid-19 vaccines does not begin soon, according to Community Pharmacy Wales chair Mark Griffiths. He said pharmacies are ready and willing to engage with the vaccination programme and the organisation believes that “once the programme reaches the working population of under-65s, community pharmacies will be best placed to play a key frontline role in vaccinating as many people as possible from the convenience of high street locations.”