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Pharmacy best place for Javid’s proposed vaccination service, say sector leaders

Pharmacies should be the “preferred provider” of public health vaccinations, pharmacy bodies have told C+D, as the health secretary set out ambitions for a comprehensive UK-wide vaccination programme.

The Association of Independent Multiple pharmacies (AIMp), the National Pharmacy Association (NPA), the Company Chemists' Association (CCA), and the Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee (PSNC) have shared their vision for pharmacies’ involvement with a national vaccination programme with C+D.

It follows comments made by the health secretary last week (January 25), where he argued in favour of a national vaccination programme that would allow healthcare professionals, such as GPs, to continue with their routine care during a big vaccination push. 

“We’ve got to have a national vaccination service that is able to deal with COVID-19 vaccines as well as other vaccines without drawing in workforce from the rest of the NHS,” Sajid Javid told the Health and Social Care Committee.

 

AIMp: Make pharmacies “preferred” provider of vaccinations

 

In response to Mr Javid’s comments, AIMp CEO Leyla Hannbeck told C+D that  “pharmacy should not only be included in any national rollout but should be commissioned as the preferred provider to all public health vaccination programmes”.

“The public have given a resounding thumbs up for the convenience and reliability” of community pharmacy, she continued, having administered a “record number flu jabs year on year”. The sector also delivered a robust delivery of COVID-19 vaccinations, which “demonstrated how pharmacy can manage reconstitution, waste and variable dose regimes with efficiency”, she said.

“Community pharmacy has more than proved its credentials to administer vaccination at scale,” Dr Hannbeck added.

 

PSNC: Pharmacies could play “larger role”

 

PSNC director of NHS services, Alastair Buxton, echoed Dr Hannbeck in pointing out that “the sector’s amazing performance” over the winter, delivering both flu and COVID-19 jabs, has demonstrated that “community pharmacy could play a much larger role in future vaccination programmes”.

By tapping into “thousands of healthcare locations on the high street” and using the “existing network of vaccination centres”, the health secretary can “realise his vision and ease pressure on general practice…in a simple but effective way”, Mr Buxton told C+D.

 

NPA: Pharmacy an “obvious” place to start

 

The health secretary visited Medicine Chest pharmacy – an NPA member pharmacy – in Chelsea, central London last week (January 27).

Mr Javid thanked “pharmacy teams across the UK for delivering more than 20 million vaccinations for the COVID-19 programme” during his visit, according to NPA.

The pharmacy network has also distinguished itself in the delivery of vaccines for “areas like hepatitis and travel”, NPA chief executive Mark Lyonette told C+D, making it “an obvious place to start in developing a national vaccination service” due its existing “core infrastructure”.

 

CCA: “Necessary investment” needed

 

Malcolm Harrison, CEO of the Company Chemists' Association (CCA) added that while they delivered “a trusted, accessible vaccination programme” in the last year across a large scale, pharmacies had also managed to support “isolated communities” and “directly tackle health inequalities”.

“Normalising COVID-19 vaccination programmes and moving to ‘business as usual’ will be an essential part of recovering from the pandemic,” Mr Harrison told C+D.

“We are confident that, by moving to an established model” similar to the flu vaccination programme, “community pharmacy could deliver over 20 million vaccines a year”, including COVID-19, flu and travel jabs, he added.

Mr Harrison urged “the government to make the necessary investment to unlock the potential of community pharmacies to routinely administer vaccines”.

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