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First Welsh pharmacy delivers COVID-19 vax as part of 3-day pilot

Pharmacist Steffan John administering the Oxford/Astrazeneca vaccine to patient Ernest Sidaway

Fferyllfa H L Taylor Pharmacy in Llanbedrog, north-west Wales, is the first to have started administering COVID-19 vaccinations in the country, as part of a pilot.

The pharmacy – which is part of a group of four independent pharmacies based in the north-west of Wales – started delivering the vaccinations this morning as part of a three-day pilot, Community Pharmacy Wales (CPW) told C+D today (January 15).

A CPW spokesperson welcomed the launch of this pilot, but pointed out that this is an isolated case and “not the commissioning of community pharmacists at scale and pace as part of the vaccines programme”.

“Community pharmacists are still waiting for most health boards to ask for expressions of interest, and no commissioning of any ongoing service has yet happened in Wales,” they added.

"Natural extension of our role"

Steffan John, superintendent pharmacist at Fferyllfa H L Taylor Pharmacy, told C+D the branch had 100 Oxford/Astrazeneca vaccines delivered on Wednesday and were told to use them up by the end of the weekend.

While the priority is “100% to vaccinate our patients over the age of 80 first”, Mr John said should there be vaccines left over at the end of the day, “and there’s definitely no other patients around, then we could vaccinate our own staff”, rather than the vaccines going to waste.

While this is just the start of a pilot, Mr John said it makes sense to include community pharmacies in the COVID-19 vaccination efforts, when supply allows.

“It's just a natural extension of our role in doing flu jabs, really,” he told C+D.

Involve all vaccinating pharmacies

In an “action list” – the content of which was shared with health and social services minister Vaughan Gething yesterday (January 14) – the Welsh negotiator argued that all pharmacies that normally administer the flu vaccines should be “immediately invited” to take part in the COVID-19 vaccination programme.

“There are over 600 pharmacies currently accredited to deliver flu vaccinations and if all these were doing, for example, just 10 COVID-19 vaccinations a day, then it would equate to more than 6,000 additional vaccines per day being delivered in a convenient and accessible setting,” CPW said.

“Absolutely no community pharmacy that expresses an interest should be turned down,” CPW stressed.

Two pharmacy contractors in England told C+D earlier this week (January 11) they were left “very disappointed” after NHS England and NHS Improvement told them their sites had been rejected from delivering the COVID-19 vaccination service.

"Whole team approach"

Last week (January 5), CPW announced that the Primary Care COVID-19 Immunisation Service (PCCIS) would enable all primary care providers, including community pharmacies, to participate in the delivery of COVID-19 vaccinations.

In its action list, CPW argued that the national protocol and patient group direction for the administration of the Oxford/AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine should also include “qualified pharmacy technicians and pre-registration pharmacists, provided they have completed the necessary online accreditation”.

Their intervention “could double or treble the amount of vaccinations possible in a community pharmacy setting”, CPW said.

Pharmacy technicians are not among the registered healthcare professionals who can administer vaccines under a PGD.

However, the national protocol advises that those who are “not professionally registered must complete the COVID-19 vaccinator competency assessment tool for formal evaluation and sign-off of their clinical competency. They should be supervised administering the vaccine until both they, and their supervisor or trainer, feel confident that they have the necessary knowledge and skills to administer vaccines safely and competently”.  

CPW said pharmacists are “ready to be utilised in maximising their role in vaccine delivery with urgency and determination to as many of the categories of people to be vaccinated as possible”, and contractors are willing to prioritise COVID-19 vaccinations “in our daily work”.

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