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'Impressive': Pharmacies have delivered 12m COVID-19 jabs, NHSE&I announces

More than 12 million COVID-19 vaccines have been administered at pharmacy-led sites since the beginning of 2021, an NHS England and NHS Improvement (NHSE&I) director has said.

The way community pharmacy “has stepped up to deliver” the COVID-19 vaccination programme has been “really quite impressive”, director for primary care strategy and NHS contracts Ed Waller said at the Pharmacy Show in Birmingham yesterday (October 18).

Mr Waller told delegates: “12 million jabs have now been given in community pharmacy”.

“Overall, we’ve delivered 41 million COVID-19 doses, so you can see that community pharmacy, with 12 million, is a substantial proportion of that,” he added.

Given its success, community pharmacy is now “probably going to play an even bigger part” in the COVID-19 booster vaccination programme than it did in the delivery of first and second COVID-19 vaccine doses, Mr Waller said.


1,300 pharmacy vaccination sites to increase


There are currently 1,300 community pharmacy COVID-19 vaccination sites across England, which are also offering COVID-19 booster doses, Mr Waller said.

“When we started there were just a couple of hundred vaccination sites. That will continue to change,” he added, “as people choose where they want to go and get vaccinated. Therefore, that number will probably only go up.”

Community pharmacies in England first began delivering COVID-19 vaccinations in January 2021. Earlier this month, Boots began administering COVID-19 booster vaccinations from 55 of its branches, while an additional 72 Asda pharmacies have now joined the vaccination programme.

Meanwhile, Well Pharmacy has also confirmed the locations of its 60 branches where patients could receive their COVID-19 boosters and Lloydspharmacy has told C+D that 12 of its branches are involved in phase 3 of the programme.


Pandemic did “community pharmacy some good”


Mr Waller told Pharmacy Show delegates that the delivery of the COVID-19 programme by community pharmacy was “an amazing achievement and I think potentially something that over the long run sets community pharmacy up to grow into a better and bigger clinical role”.

He added: “I think the pandemic did probably do community pharmacy good in the sense of its position in the NHS.”

“I wanted to say thank you to everybody for what's happened over the last 18 months.

“It’s been an incredibly stressful time – a time in which keeping the show on the road across pharmacy in England has been an achievement itself,” Mr Waller added.

Earlier this month, NHSE&I updated its standard operating procedure (SOP) for the COVID-19 vaccination programme, advising pharmacy-led COVID-19 vaccination sites to ensure they have “clear protocols in place” to “maintain a strong security culture” for staff, patients and premises. “There is a risk that protestors may try and pose as either patients or staff,” NHSE&I warned.

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