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PSNC pushes for pharmacy COVID-19 vaccination service parity with GPs

The Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee (PSNC) is pushing for a COVID-19 vaccination service in pharmacy “to have parity” with the one commissioned for GP practices.

The details for a community pharmacy COVID-19 vaccination service are still being discussed, with the PSNC, the Department of Health and Social Care (DH) and NHS England and Improvement (NHSE&I) having entered “urgent negotiations” about the sector’s role in  a vaccination programme, the negotiator announced last week (November 6).

Following news of positive interim results released by Pfizer/BioNTech regarding their COVID-19 vaccine, health secretary Matt Hancock said on the BBC Breakfast programme today (November 10), that the “NHS is ready” to deliver a potential COVID-19 vaccine. “The GPs are ready, we’re working with the pharmacists…who’ve got a very important role to play,” he said.

Association of Independent Multiple Pharmacies (AIMp) CEO Leyla Hannbeck told C+D last week that AIMp is also in discussions with NHSE&I to “understand what the criteria are for community pharmacy to get involved”.

The Royal Pharmaceutical Society said today that it is meeting with the government this week to discuss “how pharmacists can be integrated into vaccine programmes in the future.”

“Only some pharmacies”

More details on the service for pharmacies will be shared “in due course” but roll-out of the programme is expected to take place at local level, PSNC said last week.

PSNC director of NHS services Alastair Buxton said that a “collaborative approach” – similar to the one taken to deliver flu vaccinations – will need to be implemented.

“Due to the practical requirements for service provision at scale, not all pharmacies will be able to offer COVID vaccinations; this will be an opportunity that only some pharmacies and GP practices will choose to take up, with local coordination of sites,” he added.

A PSNC spokesperson said the “practical requirements for service provision at scale” include storage requirements – the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine needs to be stored at -70C until the day it is used – and the way vaccines will be supplied to the NHS.

More details on the COVID-19 vaccination programme for GP practices were released by NHSE&I and the British Medical Association (BMA) yesterday.

According to the BMA guidance, “local pharmacies may be commissioned where general practice coverage is not enough”, while the NHS said GP practices will have to provide the majority of the staff to administer the vaccines, but local providers such as community pharmacy “may be able to support delivery”.

GP practices will receive “the vaccines, needles, syringes, diluents and personal protective equipment” to administer a COVID-19 vaccine. They will receive a fee of £12.58 per dose administered, and a total of £25.16 once the second dose is delivered, the BMA said.

NHS England and Improvement (NHSE&I) CEO Simon Stevens said last week (November 4) that a "combination" of providers, including pharmacists, GP practices and vaccination centres, will deliver a COVID-19 vaccine when one is available, and the NHS is planning for the "off chance" that some vaccines will be available by the end of 2020.

Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine interim results

Pfizer/BioNTech announced yesterday (November 9) that an interim efficacy analysis of their mRNA-based COVID-19 vaccine, which consists of a two-dose schedule, showed that it is 90% effective in preventing the virus in participants who had not previously contracted it.

A DH spokesperson told C+D yesterday that the government secured 40 million doses of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine but added that “we will know whether the vaccine meets our robust standards of safety and effectiveness once their safety data has been published, and only then can the medicines regulator consider whether it can be made available to the public”.

What assurances do you need before a COVID-19 vaccination service is commissioned from pharmacy?

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