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The pharmacies delivering COVID-19 vaccines: 'We are ready'

Two pharmacies reveal the details of the hard work behind the creation of their COVID-19 vaccination sites, which can start seeing patients from today

Although most pharmacies have not been permitted to prepare to host COVID-19 vaccinations so far, 200 pharmacy led-sites should begin to do so from today. Executives from two companies involved in the programme, Knights Pharmacy and MW Phillips Chemists, speak to C+D in a podcast about how they geared up their businesses to deliver thousands of vaccines.

The 70-branch Knights Pharmacy chain has had one site approved in Redditch, Worcestershire and one in Bishop Auckland, County Durham. MW Phillips Chemists – which has 43 pharmacies – was given the go-ahead to open a mass vaccination site in Birmingham yesterday.

Both companies are raring to go. Nadia Hussain, clinical lead for MW Phillips Chemists, says: “When there is stock, when everything is ready to go, we are ready and we are trained and we are prepared.”

To be eligible to host a vaccine site, the companies had to have the capacity to deliver 1,000 vaccines a week, an impossible standard for many businesses.

Pharmacies are under pressure to use the vaccines quickly. Although the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine can be stored in fridges, the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine must be used within 120 hours of leaving wholesalers’ freezers.

Pete Horrocks, Knights Pharmacy superintendent pharmacist, says that by the time the latter vaccines arrive at the pharmacy, the team have about three and a half days to use them before they expire.

“If you've got two deliveries of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine [spread over one week], then you'd probably be looking at doing 2,000 vaccinations per week,” Mr Horrocks says. “That is very much [dependant on] the remit and capacity of our clinics.”

“We're confident that by operating at scale and ensuring that we've done everything as per the service specification, that this will be a commercially viable service for us.”

Mr Horrocks stresses that his business is helping the programme to support the wider healthcare system in its fight against COVID-19.

Listen to the podcast to find out more about:

  • The vaccination pods set up by pharmacies.
  • The hard work applying to become a hub and preparing the premises.
  • Hopes that more pharmacies will be able to deliver the vaccines.

You can listen to the podcast below. Alternatively, subscribe to C+D's podcasts by searching “Chemist+Druggist podcast” on your preferred app or on Soundcloud.

 

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