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DH credits ‘accessible and approachable’ pharmacy in COVID-19 vax plan

Pharmacies are “integral parts of local communities”, the Department of Health and Social Care (DH) has said, as it outlines its COVID-19 vaccines delivery plan.

The DH has today (January 11) published its COVID-19 vaccines delivery plan, which goes into how it envisages community pharmacy will be involved in the national vaccination service.

It comes after urgent calls from the sector for pharmacy to have a greater role in the programme.

“Significant number of appointments”

The DH expects to be able to vaccinate “at least 2 million people per week” in England through its 206 “active hospital hub sites”, “50 vaccination centres”, and around “1,200 local vaccination service sites”, which include community pharmacy settings.

The first community pharmacy teams will start administering the COVID-19 vaccines “from mid-January, offering bookings through the National Booking Service”, the DH said.

Listen to how some of the first community pharmacy sites offering the vaccines are preparing for the service.

These sites “will be able to offer significant numbers of appointments”, the DH said.

“Community pharmacies are integral parts of local communities and will be accessible and approachable places from which to deliver vaccination.”

Pharmacies support high-risk patients

COVID-19 vaccines will be administered by “local vaccination services”, which bring together “large and small community pharmacy sites”, GP practices and primary care networks.

These sites in turn “provide the largest number of locations and are well placed to support our highest risk individuals, many of whom already have a trusted relationship with their local health services”, the DH said.

Only a “limited number” of pharmacies have already been approved as suitable vaccination sites.

However, in an update on its website yesterday (January 10), the Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee (PSNC) said it was working with other pharmacy bodies to scope out how more pharmacies can be involved in the COVID-19 vaccination programme.

Home visits

The local vaccination service sites will also “coordinate and deliver vaccination[s] to people who are unable to attend a vaccination site, including visiting care homes, the homes of housebound individuals and other settings such as residential facilities for people with learning disabilities or autism and prisons and to reach vulnerable groups such as those who are experiencing homelessness”.

All pharmacy teams vaccinated by Feb 15

Plans are also outlined in the DH paper for everyone in the first four cohorts indicated for priority vaccinations by the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) – which includes frontline healthcare professionals – to receive their first dose of COVID-19 jab by February 15.

These vaccinations will take place from three types of sites: large vaccination centres, hospital hubs and “local vaccination services, made up of sites led by general practice teams working together in already established primary care networks and pharmacy teams through community pharmacies”.

Sign the petition to allow all community pharmacies in England to offer COVID-19 vaccinations here

Will your pharmacy offer the COVID-19 vaccination service?

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