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Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine to be available for supply to community pharmacies from March 2024

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The Comirnaty COVID-19 vaccine will be the first to be available privately in the UK. 

The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) announced on 9 February 2024 that it has approved a change to the licence of Pfizer-BioNTech Comirnaty COVID-19 vaccine, allowing the thawing and re-labelling of the vaccine outside of the NHS.

According to the UK regulator, the new authorisation was granted after the vaccine was found to meet its standards of safety, quality and effectiveness. The approval is valid in Great Britain only, it said.

Previously, the thawing and distribution of the Comirnaty Omicron XBB.1.5 30 micrograms/dose vaccine was centrally managed by the health service.

The MHRA explained that Comirnaty needs to be stored at ultra-low temperatures of -80 ºC and then thawed before use, but the formulation of the vaccine is otherwise the same as that approved by the regulator in September 2023.

Pfizer has also confirmed that the vaccine will be made available privately through community pharmacies and private healthcare providers in the UK from March 2024.

A spokesperson for Pfizer told Pharmaceutical Journal that the decision was taken “in response to the ongoing impact of COVID-19 and demand for the vaccine”.

Until now, COVID-19 vaccines could only be accessible via the NHS national immunization programme (NIP).

Pharmacies and private providers will determine their own pricing for offering vaccines to the public.

John McGinley, primary care lead at Pfizer UK, expressed immense pride their COVID-19 vaccine will be the first to be available for the public to buy.

It was Pfizer that provided the world’s first COVID-19 vaccine in the UK during the pandemic in 2020.

Recently, pharmacy clinical service provider Pharmadoctor, announced the launch of the UK’s first private Covid vaccination service via its nationwide network of partner community pharmacies.

Graham Thoms, Chief Executive Officer at PharmaDoctor, told The Guardian that the initial vaccine on offer would be the adapted Novavax COVID-19 vaccine that targets the Omicron XBB 1.5 subvariant, but more vaccines will be added into the service as they become licensed for use in the private market.

Initially, 27 pharmacies in England and Scotland will offer the service, expected to start by 1st April at the latest, delivering the vaccine to members of the public from £45 per jab,  the newspaper reported.

The Nuvaxovid COVID-19 vaccine has been approved by the MHRA for use in individuals from 12 years of age.

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