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COVID-19 vaccine: Clarify pharmacy role and ensure supply, bodies urge

Industry bodies have welcomed news that pharmacists can administer COVID-19 vaccines but called for clarity on their part in such a roll-out and assurances on access to vaccines.

Last week (October 16), the Department of Health and Social Care (DH) announced that – following a change in the law – pharmacists and other healthcare professionals will be able to administer a future COVID-19 vaccine, after completing a “comprehensive training programme”.

Gordon Hockey, director of operation and support at the Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee (PSNC) said in a statement today (October 19) that “it is not yet clear what role primary care will play in vaccination roll-out”.

“As well as a role in offering any COVID-19 vaccination, PSNC is pressing for community pharmacies to have a central role in the distribution of any COVID-19 treatments to patients,” Mr Hockey added.

“Community pharmacies have had a central role in the response to the COVID-19 pandemic so far, and this should continue as new treatments and vaccinations become available,” he said.

National Pharmacy Association (NPA) policy manager Helga Mangion said the organisation thinks pharmacies will “have a crucial role to play in ensuring as many people as possible get protected by any future COVID-19 vaccine”.

“Provided the appropriate safety, quality and efficacy measures have been put in place, the NPA is supportive of the deployment of effective and legal mechanisms for bringing this pandemic under control,” she added.

Learn from flu season issues

Leyla Hannbeck, CEO of the Association of Independent Multiple Pharmacies (AIMp) told C+D today that the organisation welcomes last week’s announcement but that lessons on ensuring the availability of COVID-19 vaccines must be learned from the issues encountered by pharmacies delivering this year’s flu vaccination service.

“Procurement has been a costly balance of risk versus usage for pharmacies nationally. A COVID-19 vaccination cannot be compromised by intermittent access to the vaccine,” she said.

“We are confident that with seamless availability, pharmacy can demonstrate its critical role in public health,” Ms Hannbeck added.

What do you make of the legislative changes?

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