(Photo: REUTERS/Paul Childs)

Six pharmacy sites – including four independent pharmacies in Telford, Macclesfield, Widnes and London and two multiples – have begun vaccinating people against Covid-19 on Thursday (January 14).

The pilot – in which the six pharmacies became the first pharmacy sites to administer coronavirus vaccinations as part of the NHS vaccination programme – was hailed as a “proud moment for community pharmacy.”

These pharmacies have been picked because they have the capability to deliver large volumes of the vaccine and allow for appropriate social distancing.

According to NHS England, more than 200 community pharmacies will be able to give vaccines by the end of the month.

Health secretary Matt Hancock said it was “fantastic” that high-street pharmacies will now begin to deliver the vaccines.

“Pharmacies sit at the heart of local communities and will make a big difference to our rollout programme by providing even more local, convenient places for those that are eligible to get their jab.

“Pharmacists have worked tirelessly throughout the pandemic, often acting as the first port of call for medical advice – and often staying open when all around have closed.

“I want to extend my thanks to every pharmacy for their efforts to support the national response to the pandemic and keep people safe.”

The pharmacies chosen to support vaccination efforts by local NHS teams will be operating under the terms of a locally enhanced service. The six community pharmacy vaccination sites now live are:

  • Boots, Halifax
  • Andrews Pharmacy, Macclesfield
  • Appleton Village Pharmacy, Widnes
  • Superdrug Pharmacy, Guildford
  • Cullimore Chemist, Edgware
  • Woodside Pharmacy, Telford

Positive reaction from sector

Simon Dukes, chief executive of the Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee, said: “It is fantastic to see the first community pharmacy Covid-19 vaccination sites going live this week and we look forward to seeing more pharmacies involved in the programme in due course.

“We know that patients will value this and that pharmacies can make a significant contribution to the national vaccination efforts.”

Mark Lyonette, chief executive of the National Pharmacy Association, said: “Community pharmacists are eager to play their part in the Covid-19 vaccination programme, and as trusted health care professionals they will have a key role in achieving widespread uptake.

“We are proud that National Pharmacy Association members – who have been on the health service frontline throughout the pandemic – are joining this great national effort to defeat the virus.

“This is a proud moment for community pharmacy and a moment of hope for all.

“We look forward to working with the NHS on the further mobilisation of pharmacies, right across the country.”

Malcolm Harrison, chief executive of the Company Chemists’ Association, said: “The CCA is delighted that two of its members, Boots and Superdrug, are part of this historic step in the fight against coronavirus.

“We are fully supportive of community pharmacy teams being involved, using their clinical expertise to help protect at-risk groups against Covid-19. We look forward to working with the NHS to ensure that community pharmacies play an even bigger role in the Covid vaccine programme in the coming weeks and months.”

Dr Leyla Hannbeck, chief executive of the Association of Independent Multiple Pharmacies, said: “We are delighted to see that a number of our members have had their pharmacy-led sites approved to participate in this historic vaccination programme.

“This demonstrates the sheer determination and willingness of pharmacy teams to support the rest of the NHS to vaccinate the nation. We are confident our members will not only deliver to target but exceed the expectations with efficiency and the minimum of disruption to patients.”

Professor Claire Anderson, chair of the Royal Pharmaceutical Society’s English Pharmacy Board, said: “Pharmacists are playing a key role in the fight against Covid-19 and this is a welcome step towards their skills being used more widely to support vaccinations in their local communities.

“Pharmacy teams in hospital, primary care and the community are working flat out to support the nation’s health and we look forward to further expansion of the vaccination programme through pharmacy to benefit patients.”

Seb James, managing director of Boots UK and ROI, said: “As we begin vaccinations at our Halifax pharmacy today, we are incredibly proud to be supporting the NHS during this extraordinary time.

“Our pharmacists are experts in vaccination programmes and have a trusted role at the heart of our local communities. Pharmacies are extremely well placed to support the roll out of this vaccine quickly and safely.”

Michael Henry, Superdrug’s healthcare director, said: “Today sees a significant step forward in making the vaccination more accessible to people most at risk from coronavirus as our pharmacists and nurses use their clinical expertise to deliver the vaccine.

“Guildford is the first of five current Superdrug sites to support the NHS with the rollout of its critical vaccination programme and we are in active discussions for additional vaccination sites through further pharmacy involvement.

“We are proud to be working with the NHS and welcome the opportunity for more of our front-line clinical teams together with other community pharmacy teams to play an even greater role in delivering the vaccination service to more patients more quickly.”

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