A large majority (73%) of respondents to an online NPA survey that ran October 29 – November 2 said they “definitely or might” get vaccinated against COVID-19 at a pharmacy once a vaccine becomes available.
However, nearly one in five (19%) of the 2,000 respondents said they were not planning on getting vaccinated against COVID-19 at all, while 8% would have the vaccination, but not at a pharmacy.
Commenting on the findings, revealed at the NPA Winter Conference earlier this week (November 9), NPA chair Andrew Lane said: “Community pharmacy can play a significant role in the COVID-19 vaccination programme, having already proven our capabilities in relation to the NHS flu vaccination scheme.”
The public also has a “high level of trust in their local pharmacists, which could be an important factor in overcoming doubts and misapprehensions about vaccines for COVID-19”, Mr Lane added.
The findings come as the Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee (PSNC) last week (November 6) said it is pushing for a COVID-19 vaccination service in pharmacy “to have parity” with the one commissioned for GP practices, but before the announcement earlier this week about the Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine.
Also speaking before the Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine announcement, NHS England and Improvement CEO Simon Stevens said last week (November 4) that a "combination" of providers, including pharmacists, would be involved in delivering COVID-19 vaccines.
70% of people visited pharmacy during the pandemic
Last week, NPA data also revealed that nearly 70% of people went to a community pharmacy during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The vast majority (68%) of respondents to the online NPA survey said they had visited a pharmacy “at least once” since March.
The data, published last week (November 6), also revealed that 35% of the public had gone to a pharmacy at least once since March due to their GP being unable to see them “as a result of COVID-19 safety measures” at the practice.
Of these, 42% saw a pharmacist for a minor illness, while 33% requested access to medicines and 15% went for health checks such as blood pressure.
Pharmacy “integral” to healthcare system
Commenting on the data, NPA vice-chair Nick Kaye said community pharmacy is “integral to a functioning system of primary care”.
“People trust their local pharmacists and most people can get to a pharmacy within a matter of minutes, including in the most deprived areas,” he said. “That’s a level of access that is unsurpassed elsewhere in the health service.”
“While other parts of the health service have deemed it necessary to restrict the amount of face-to-face care they give, pharmacies have kept their doors open throughout the pandemic, including all lockdowns,” he added.
In a recent letter to community pharmacy teams last week (November 5), pharmacy minister Jo Churchill praised the sector for its work during the pandemic, saying it is now “better prepared” to deal with a second wave.