Boots pharmacists are already undergoing preparation to administer the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine to “at least 1,000 patients” per week – the minimum amount required by the government for community pharmacies participating in the local enhanced service (LES).
The first Boots site to go live will operate from purpose-built facilities in the multiple’s Halifax branch, which is attached to a GP surgery.
Preparations are also underway to open similar sites in Huddersfield and Gloucester – which Boots hopes to have up and running by the end of January. Discussions are ongoing to open more sites in the coming months, the multiple suggested.
Patients will be able to book their vaccination appointment through the NHS’s National Immunisation Management Service booking system, once it has opened.
Commenting on the announcement, Boots’ managing director Seb James said: “Our vaccination sites are clean, clinical environments in accessible, convenient locations, like high streets, and we have extensive experience in vaccination services.
“We hope to help the NHS and enable more people to get the vaccination quickly.”
When asked by C+D if there were concerns that moving teams away from the day-to-day running of the pharmacy to staff the vaccination programme would have an impact on other services, Boots said it is hiring and training additional staff to take on the extra work.
Mr James cited Boots’ involvement in COVID-19 mass testing throughout the pandemic as an indication of the multiple’s capacity to aid the government’s immunisation programme.
In a conference call with journalists last week, James Kehoe, global chief financial officer for Boots’ parent Walgreen Boots Alliance, said that the multiple had completed 2.1 million coronavirus tests for the NHS in 2020, as part of the government’s national testing programme.
Mr James added: “Now we are proud to play our part in vaccinating the nation.”
In October, Boots launched its own private in-store testing service at a cost of £120. The swab test, which is designed to give lab results within 48 hours, is now available in more than 90 Boots branches across the UK.