Speaking during a COVID-19 vaccine update debate in the House of Commons yesterday (February 4), Labour Cooperative MP Rachael Maskell asked the vaccines deployment minister Nadhim Zahawi if the government would allow pharmacies to work together to administer “smaller volumes” of COVID-19 vaccinations.
Pharmacies currently participating in the COVID-19 vaccination programme have committed to delivering a minimum of 1,000 vaccines a week, which Ms Maskell argued “precludes many community pharmacies” to play their part in the national service.
Answering the question, Mr Zahawi said that “community and independent pharmacies have a significant role to play”.
However, he explained that the requirement for pharmacies to administer a minimum of 1,000 vaccines a week is necessary at this stage of the vaccination programme because “supply is finite and every dose matters”.
“We cannot afford for vaccines to just sit in a fridge in a smaller pharmacy,” he added.
“As vaccine supply begins to improve, we can look at bringing in more pharmacies. I want us to get to a stage, once we have done phase 1, where we are maybe able to be more convenient and where people can pop into their local pharmacy once supply allows,” Mr Zahawi said.
A further 62 pharmacy-led sites began administering COVID-19 vaccines yesterday, bringing the total of pharmacy sites participating to 194, according to a list of local vaccination sites updated by NHS England and NHS Improvement (NHSE&I) today (February 5).
Speaking before the Health and Social Care Committee last month (January 26), NHSE&I CEO Simon Stevens said that “lots of high street pharmacies” will vaccinate working adults as supplies allow.
The Department of Health and Social Care (DH) announced earlier this week (February 3) that more than 10 million people in the UK received their first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine.
Last month, C+D launched a petition urging NHSE&I to scrap the red tape and let more pharmacy teams across England pitch in with national COVID-19 vaccination efforts. Sign the petition here