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‘It’s our duty’: Pharmacies launch 24hr COVID vax clinics in Christmas booster drive

Some pharmacies in England will launch 24-hour COVID-19 vaccination clinics over this weekend in a drive to vaccinate as many people as possible before Christmas.

MW Phillips Chemists will open its first 24-hour COVID-19 vaccination clinic at its site in Birmingham between 8am on Saturday (December 18) and 8pm the next day to help “support the local community and areas around Birmingham”.

The group – which has 43 pharmacies across the Midlands and South Wales – was the among the first COVID-19 pharmacy-led vaccination sites to open in the UK in January.

Meanwhile, one Knights Pharmacy site in Durham – also among the first pharmacy sites to be approved last year – will operate on a 24-hour basis this weekend as well.

NHS England and NHS Improvement (NHSE&I) announced on Monday that community pharmacy-led sites in England will receive support to extend their opening hours to operate 12 hours a day “as a standard, seven days a week” and offer booster jabs “at their maximum capacity”.

MW Phillips Chemist pharmacy superintendent, Sandeep Dhami, told C+D that his team has seen “record days” and a “massive increase” in demand for COVID-19 jabs following Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s announcement on Sunday (December 12) that the COVID-19 booster campaign would be accelerated further, with the aim of offering all adults a booster dose by the end of the year.

On Monday, (December 13), 1,500 community pharmacies delivered 185,000 COVID-19 booster vaccines in England – 44% of all boosters given that day.


“We feel it’s our duty”


Mr Dhami told C+D: “We're ready to go. We will not refuse any eligible person.” His team’s goal, he added, “is to try and vaccinate 5,000 people” over the 36-hour period.

With six vaccination pods available, around 30 pharmacy staff members will work across the weekend in teams on a rota system.

The pharmacy, which is a member of the Association of Independent Multiple pharmacies (AIMp), currently has a live booking system, allowing any eligible person to book a vaccination slot. People may also choose to walk in at any time of the day to receive their vaccination, Mr Dhami said.

He added: “We really need to help and support the local community and the areas around Birmingham. We feel it's our duty as pharmacy to deliver these booster jabs as best we can, as quick as we can. It's our professional duty to do this.”


“A clear example of what pharmacy can achieve”


AIMp chief executive officer Leyla Hannbeck told C+D: “AIMp members are operating many vaccination sites both in pharmacy setting and in various locations. They have played a significant role in the vaccination programme and been instrumental in achieving the high numbers of vaccinations that has been reported by the government so far.”

MW Phillips Chemist “is a clear example” she said, “of what pharmacy can achieve when given the opportunity, going over and beyond, and there are more examples like this”.

She added: “I ask the government and NHSE&I to see the clear potential of community pharmacy, which is right in front of them, and invest in it and support it.” 


24-hour vaccinations “a convenient solution” for shift workers


Meanwhile, the 90-strong Knights Pharmacy chain will open its Bishop Auckland site in Durham for 36 hours, between 8am on Saturday to 8pm on Sunday.

Night-time appointments will help to deliver a planned 1,500 vaccines over that period, superintendent pharmacist Pete Horrocks said.

He added: “Offering appointments throughout the night will improve accessibility and much-needed supply.

“There are many shift workers across County Durham. We hope that this will offer a convenient solution to the healthcare, hospitality and industry workers that otherwise may struggle to book a daytime vaccination.”


Are you/your pharmacy involved in the COVID-19 vaccination programme? Share your experience on the C+D Community

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