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Manufacturers and multiple ‘currently exploring’ rollout of private COVID jabs

COVID-19 vaccine manufacturers are “exploring” the potential of providing their jabs privately, C+D has learned. 

An offer of private COVID-19 vaccines could be in the works, according to Pfizer, AstraZeneca and Moderna.

A spokesperson for Pfizer told C+D this week (September 18) that it is “currently exploring the potential of providing COVID-19 vaccines privately in the UK” and “investigating the necessary processes to enable this”.

Previously, the manufacturer had said that its “priority” was to support the “highest risk populations” via the NHS programme but that it “[remained] open to exploring alternative supply routes” when C+D enquired earlier this month (September 5).

Other manufacturers have also suggested that private COVID-19 vaccinations are on the cards. 

An AstraZeneca spokesperson said on September 7 that it too was exploring the possibility of private jabs and was “assessing access options”.

And a Moderna spokesperson also said on September 5 that the manufacturer remains “open to exploring the possibility and viability of providing COVID-19 vaccines…for private sales”.

However, a spokesperson for manufacturer Novavax told C+D this week (September 18) that “at the moment, Novavax is not able to sell its vaccine through private channels” as its vaccine needs a licence from the medicines regulator for the new COVID-19 variant.

They said that “the expectation is then that the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) will review the product and provide advice on the use of the vaccine”.


Which multiples could offer private COVID jabs?


Superdrug has confirmed to C+D that it would like to provide a private COVID-19 vaccination service.

A spokesperson for the multiple said last week (September 13) that it was “interested in offering a private COVID-19 vaccination” and that it is “currently…gathering information to access whether it’s a viable option”.

It remains unclear whether Boots or Rowlands would offer the service as neither responded to requests for comment.

Both Lloydspharmacy and Well declined to comment on whether they would be interested in offering a private COVID-19 jab service.


Vaccination chaos


Meanwhile, this autumn’s free NHS COVID-19 and flu vaccination services have been met with upset from those in the pharmacy sector.

Community pharmacy leaders criticised “short notice” changes to the start date of the services earlier this month, after the government announced that both programmes would be brought forward.

And in a snapshot poll last month, C+D found that 74% of 156 contractor respondents said that they would not be offering the COVID-19 jab this season.

It followed the news that NHS England (NHSE) would reduce the fee paid to community pharmacies for COVID-19 vaccinations by 25% from £10 to £7.54.

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