The Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee (PSNC) made the case for community pharmacy teams to receive the COVID-19 vaccine “alongside all other health and social care professionals”, and claimed that NHS England and NHS Improvement (NHSE&I) “has now confirmed to us that this will be the case”, the negotiator said in an update to contractors earlier this week (November 10).
Community Pharmacy Scotland (CPS) director of operations Matt Barclay told C+D today (November 12) that CPS understands that pharmacy teams wil be included "as part of the health and social care rollout of any programme” in Scotland.
“We would certainly see community pharmacy as a priority to maintain the important healthcare role with patients, which they have shown with open doors throughout the pandemic, and this should be recognised through prioritising them in any vaccination programme,” Mr Barclay added.
COVID-19 vaccination programme
More information on the COVID-19 vaccination programme and its implications for community pharmacy will be “released as soon as it is available”, PSNC said.
The expectation is that GPs and pharmacies will “need to work together” as the rollout of the programme is likely to be coordinated by the local NHS, according to PSNC.
Commenting on the news that it is understood pharmacy teams will be vaccinated against COVID-19 at an early stage of the rollout of the vaccination programme, Association of Independent Multiple Pharmacies CEO Leyla Hannbeck told C+D yesterday (Wednesday 11) that “this is really good news”.
“Our member pharmacy teams have bravely manned the front line in their communities throughout this pandemic and this will make them feel recognised, valued and cared for,” she added.
Priority groups for COVID-19 vaccine
Interim advice by the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI), issued on September 25, indicated that frontline health and social care workers face a higher risk of contracting the virus “and of transmitting that infection to susceptible and vulnerable patients in health and social care settings”.
Vaccinating healthcare staff will also help “maintain resilience in the NHS”, the committee said.
Having noticed that COVID-19 “infection rates are higher in residential care home staff”, the JCVI suggested vaccinating this category of people first, alongside elderly residents in a care home.
Anyone aged 80 or over and health and social care workers are the second priority group for COVID-19 vaccinations, according to the interim advice.
However, the JCVI noted that “the final decision on the prioritisation for health and social care workers will be dependent on vaccine characteristics and the epidemiology at the start of any programme”.
Pfizer/BioNTech announced earlier this week (November 9) that an interim efficacy analysis of their mRNA-based COVID-19 vaccine showed that it is 90% effective in preventing the virus in participants who had not previously contracted it.
The number of people who have sadly passed away due to COVID-19 in the UK surpassed 50,000. Community pharmacists have kept their door opens since the beginning of the pandemic, which took the lives of some hardworking professionals.
Asymptomatic community pharmacy teams in England are expected to receive a rapid COVID-19 antigen test kit – which can show results in under an hour – over the coming weeks.