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UK’s first private pharmacy COVID-19 vaccine service launched today

Community pharmacies are set to pioneer the UK’s first private COVID-19 vaccinations, C+D has learned. 

Pharmacies can now sign up to offer the UK’s “first” private COVID-19 vaccination service as of today, Pharmadoctor revealed to C+D today (February 1). 

The pharmacy service provider said that COVID-19 vaccination stock will be available to its more than 8,000 partner pharmacies by April 1 “at the latest” and that it will “help facilitate” supply.

Currently, only people who are aged 65 or over, at “increased risk”, living in a care home, frontline health and social care workers, a carer or are living with “someone with a weakened immune system” qualify for a free COVID-19 vaccination on the NHS.

“For the first-time ever, members of the public will be able to pop into their local independent pharmacy to get a private COVID-19 jab for as little as £45”, Pharmadoctor told C+D.

Pharmacies signed up to the private COVID-19 vaccination service will also receive access to Pharmadoctor’s consultation software and integrated patient group directions (PDGs) , as well as “a range of point-of-sale materials” such as posters and template adverts, it said.

Pharmacies running the private service will be listed on a directory that allows patients “to find their nearest pharmacy offering the service”, book an appointment and start a pre-consultation online, it added.

Pharmadoctor said it is “incentivising pharmacists to sign-up early” to provide the service by offering its package at half-price until March 31 – down from £499 to £249 + VAT.

 

“A clear picture of private COVID-19 vaccinations”

 

Pharmadoctor’s founder and digital director Joaquim Pereira told C+D that the company’s digital “eTool…will generate rich data insights from the service that can be shared - patient anonymised - with public health organisations”.

With “thousands” of pharmacies expected to deliver the new service, this will create “a clear picture of private COVID-19 vaccinations…on a national level”, he added.

Chief executive Graham Thoms told C+D that Pharmadoctor was “proud” to offer the vaccination service, which comes after the company launched “the UK’s first pharmacy flu, pneumonia and RSV vaccination services” in October.

Dears Pharmacy group owner and superintendent pharmacist Mayhar Nickko-amiry added that patients ask him “all the time when COVID-19 jabs are going to be available privately”.

He said that Dears Pharmacy staff “started taking their details” and “are now delighted to be able to get back in touch with our patients and invite them into our pharmacies”.

In September, COVID-19 vaccine manufacturers Pfizer and AstraZeneca told C+D they were “exploring” the potential of providing their jabs privately.

At the time, Superdrug confirmed to C+D that it would like to provide a private COVID-19 vaccination service.

Meanwhile, the latest free NHS COVID-19 and flu vaccination services were met with upset from those in the pharmacy sector in the autumn.

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

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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