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Extra £20m for pharmacy-led COVID vax sites and PCNs to speed up jabs

NHSE&I: Administer “as quickly as supply allows” to reduce the risks of variants
NHSE&I: Administer “as quickly as supply allows” to reduce the risks of variants

Community pharmacy-led COVID-19 vaccination sites and primary care networks (PCNs) across England will receive a £20m cash injection to boost their vaccination efforts.

Each sustainability and transformation partnership (STP) or integrated care system (ICS) will receive a share of the £20 million, which can only be used to bring additional workforce capacity to the local vaccination services, NHS England and NHS Improvement (NHSE&I) said in a letter to primary care vaccination sites yesterday (June 11).

Pharmacy-led sites accessing this support must ensure “as many second dose slots as possible are opened up to enable citizens to rebook”, NHSE&I said.

Additional staff

The commissioning body recognised that vaccination sites need “additional capacity” to administer the vaccines while carrying out their essential primary care services.

The funding will reimburse the sites that receive additional staff between June 16 and July 14, and ICSs and STPs are asked to ensure it is used “where it is most needed to increase uptake and tackle health inequalities”.

“The funding has been allocated on the basis of site numbers to provide an average of seven additional staff – including some from the volunteer bank – for the four-week period covering a range of roles depending on need,” NHSE&I wrote.

More than 100,000 experienced and trained staff, either clinical or non-clinical, could be drawn from NHS Professionals, NHS Volunteer Responders and St John Ambulance for deployment across the country.

Reduce risks of variants

Pharmacy-led sites and PCNs have administered more than 58 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines to date, according to NHSE&I. It said that it is “vital” that second doses and first doses for the remaining cohorts are administered “as quickly as supply allows” to reduce the risks of variants.

Last month (May 14), the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) advised that where supply allows and in areas where the Delta (B1.617.2) variant is “a major threat”, second doses could be given after eight weeks instead of 12.

Vaccines minister Nadim Zahawi announced last week (June 3) that more than 500 community pharmacies have administered more than five million vaccinations in England.

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