Buckley Pharmacy is one of the 50 Alphega pharmacies nationwide that have now joined the fight against Covid-19 by administering vaccines to protect their local communities.
The Alphega member in Ashtead, Surrey on the outskirts of London, has so far administered over 500 vaccines and now plans to vaccinate more than 400 local residents every week.
Independent community pharmacies like Buckley Pharmacy, are often at the heart of areas where there are higher levels of health challenges and vaccine hesitancy. Therefore they are crucial in ramping up the vaccination effort, Alphega said in a press statement on Wednesday (March 31).
A leading European network of independent pharmacists, Alphega, has been instrumental in assisting its members make submissions to become certified Covid-19 sites in the UK.
It’s also been routinely providing social distancing materials and offering volunteers as marshalls in addition to giving practical support to customers in reception and recovery areas.
Abdool Kureeman, pharmacist and owner of Buckley Pharmacy, said: “Since launching the Covid-19 vaccination service, the response from the local community has been overwhelmingly positive. We have been on the frontline throughout the pandemic and our doors have always remained open to the local community.
“I am extremely proud of the team at Buckley Pharmacy and all our volunteers – who are all local residents who helped overcome this difficult time we have all been through.”
Kureeman thanked his staff as well as volunteers and Alphega Pharmacy for their commitment and dedication towards the community.
On being asked about the role of pharmacies in vaccinations, Kureeman explained: “This vaccination programme is something that independent community pharmacies have a key role to play in, particularly in reassuring patients. Whilst we haven’t come across much vaccine hesitancy in Ashtead, we have been able to alleviate patient concerns around side effects of the AstraZeneca vaccination. We have also been able to answer a lot of questions from the Muslim community and put their minds at ease around whether the vaccine contains animal products.”
On the pandemic affecting Buckley Pharmacy, Kureeman commented : “Sadly working in pharmacy, we have lost several patients to COVID-19 who we have known for years. One of the best parts of being a community pharmacist is the relationship we build with our patients so there have been a few losses which have been very upsetting for the team.”
“On a personal level, both of my sons have worked on the frontline in London hospitals, and I haven’t seen them in a long time. It has been a difficult time for us as a family. This Covid-19 vaccination programme is definitely a light at the end of a tunnel which brings everyone one step closer to seeing our loved ones again.”
Raj Nutan, head of Alphega Pharmacy, added: “Community pharmacies are perfectly positioned to help fight against the virus. They are trusted by local residents and can use those relationships to reassure them. They can also dispel myths and misconceptions about vaccines – something that is hindering its progress. This will of course help to boost uptake.”