(Photo: REUTERS/Jason Cairnduff)

The number of pharmacist-led vaccination sites has gone up to 117 with an additional 40, including an Asda pharmacy site, going live on Thursday (Jan 28).

Chair of the National Pharmacy Association Andrew Lane said: “Pharmacies are becoming part of the Covid-19 vaccination infrastructure in more and more parts of England. It is great that many independent pharmacies are rising to the challenge, alongside the national chains, GPs, hospitals and others, in this vital combined effort.

“We are confident that pharmacies will become increasingly core to the success of the vaccination programme as it rolls out. They can reach into communities across the land, to vaccinate, advise and care.”

A total of 1,438 sites ranging from GP and pharmacy-led services to hospitals and large-scale vaccination centres are now operating across the country in the programme that began with just 50 hospitals hubs on December 8.

Millions of people in the top four priority groups, including people aged 70 years old and over and those who are clinically extremely vulnerable, are being invited to a vaccination site through the national booking service.

Commenting on the latest addition, Dr Leyla Hannbeck, chief executive of the Association of Independent Multiple Pharmacies, said: “Very pleased to see that 40 pharmacy-led vaccination sites are going live today and more are in the pipeline for next week.

“I visited one of our members’ pharmacies, McParlands Pharmacy in North London last week and saw how effectively and professionally the team are delivering the Covid-19 vaccination service alongside their day to day pharmacy services.

“We have been very keen to highlight to the government and colleagues in NHSE that the community pharmacy network is willing and able to help with this historic programme and we are committed as a sector to working with the government and colleagues in NHSE to make this happen.”

An Asda store in West Bromwich became the first supermarket pharmacy to administer the vaccine as part of the NHS vaccination programme, the biggest in health service history.

“Many of the people who will attend the store today have been shielding at home for months and we hope receiving the vaccine is the first step towards a return to normality for them,” Faisal Tuddy, Asda superintendent pharmacist, said.

NHS staff are also visiting those who cannot go to their local service or travel to a vaccination centre.

Professor Stephen Powis, national medical director for the NHS in England, said: “NHS staff have worked hard with businesses, community and faith groups to set up an extensive network of vaccination sites that offer a range of options for people in all areas to receive their injection.

“We want to protect as many people as swiftly as possible and this latest milestone, with more than 1,400 sites up and running, means that we can continue to expand delivery as more vaccine supplies come on stream.”

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