Lloyds considers offering COVID-19 vax while Boots in talks with NHS
Lloydspharmacy is “absolutely considering” providing the COVID-19 vaccination service, while Boots is “in conversations” with NHSE&I on what role it could play.
Lloydspharmacy would offer the service as part of the NHS programme but needs “further details of requirements” before it can select the pharmacies from which to deliver the service “at scale”, a spokesperson told C+D earlier this week (November 18).
The second largest UK multiple said it needs to understand whether it could contribute through assisting mass vaccination centres and local GPs “through our own programme of pharmacies, or potentially other models of delivery”.
“We would be very pleased to support a programme that allowed our most vulnerable to access the vaccine in a local and trusted environment and have a number of skilled colleagues ready to embark on this historic vaccination programme,” the Lloydspharmacy spokesperson added.
Boots “ideally placed”
A Boots spokesperson told C+D earlier this week (November 18) that the company believes it is "ideally placed” to support the COVID-19 vaccination programme.
“We have significant experience and expertise in delivering vaccination programmes and activating our extensive pharmacy and colleague network to support public health initiatives – it’s what we do,” they said.
“We continue to work closely with the NHS and are in conversations to understand the role that Boots can take in supporting their COVID-19 vaccination programme.”
Rowlands: Pharmacies offer "unique easy access"
A Rowlands Pharmacy spokesperson told C+D earlier this week (November 18) that the multiple believes pharmacies play a central role in the COVID-19 vaccination programme “because we can provide unique easy access to local communities across the country”.
“Not everyone who needs to be vaccinated will be willing or able to go to the current limited list of mass vaccination centres,” they added.
The UK government has secured access to 40 million doses of the BioNTech/Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine, which the company said earlier this week (November 18) is 95% effective against COVID-19.
“Our understanding is that there is a limited amount of stock in the first batch of COVID-19 vaccines which will be made available prior to Christmas,” and that the government is prioritising premises from which a large number of vaccinations can be carried out, the Rowlands spokesperson added.
“As more vaccine stock is made available and more people become eligible for vaccination, we are confident that government will see community pharmacy as a critical channel,” they said.
A Well spokesperson said the company is awaiting further details on the programme before it makes a plan. However, “Well Pharmacy will be pleased to support the testing and vaccination agenda to help protect the communities we serve when the time is right”, they added.
COVID-19 programme involvement
Community pharmacy contractors who wish to participate in the COVID-19 vaccination programme should get in touch with their primary care network (PCN) or NHSE&I regional pharmacy contracts team, according to a slide presented by director for primary care strategy and NHS contracts Ed Waller at a primary care COVID-19 vaccination webinar earlier this week (November 18).
“Larger providers” might want to approach the NHSE&I central pharmacy team, according to the slide.
NHSE&I deputy director of pharmacy commissioning Dr Jill Loader said at the webinar that community pharmacy “will have the opportunity to get involved” in the administering of a COVID-19 vaccine “either through mass vaccination sites, trust sites, or the PCN sites that will be providing this”.
However, while a slide presented at the webinar higlighted that some community pharmacy providers who can “stand up at scale in their own right” might be commissioned to offer the COVID-19 vaccination programme where needed, Ms Loader said NHSE&I “don’t anticipate that most community pharmacy contractors will be getting involved” at this stage.
But the current vaccination model “isn’t the model forever” and it could change in the future as other vaccines become available, she added.
PCNs had until November 17 to communicate to their clinical commissioning group what site they are planning to deliver the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine from.
The vaccine is expected to be delivered to a practice “in batches of 975 doses (195 vials each containing five doses), along with diluent, needles and syringes”, according to the British Medical Association.