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Further 46 pharmacy-led sites join COVID vaccination programme

Harbans Kaur, aged 78, was Asda pharmacy's first patient at the COVID vaccination site
Harbans Kaur, aged 78, was Asda pharmacy's first patient at the COVID vaccination site

Another 46 pharmacy-led sites will begin administering COVID-19 vaccinations from today, including the award-winning Bedminster Pharmacy team operating from a church hall.

This takes the total number of pharmacy-led sites offering COVID-19 vaccinations to 117, with more sites due to go live before the end of January, NHS England and NHS Improvement (NHSE&I) said.

The community pharmacies join 250 hospitals, 1,000 GP-led services and 47 mass vaccination sites in the “biggest vaccination programme in the health service’s history”, the commissioner said.

“Humbled” to begin service

Ade Williams, superintendent pharmacist at Bedminster Pharmacy in Bristol, said he and his team are “humbled” to begin administering COVID-19 vaccinations from a local community church hall.

The pharmacy – along with volunteers – are prepped and ready to provide the service 24 hours a day, as soon as the supply of vaccines allows, Mr Williams told C+D.

On Tuesday, NHSE&I chief executive Simon Stevens said “right now, supply is constrained” and “lots of high street pharmacies will be able to offer the vaccine” when more become available.

First supermarket pharmacy

Asda pharmacy becomes the first supermarket to offer COVID-19 vaccinations from its Cape Hill branch in Birmingham.

The supermarket has transformed its George clothing department to accommodate the vaccination centre and hopes to administer 240 jabs a day, Asda said.

Asda will open a second vaccination site next week at its Watford superstore, “creating a much larger space that has the capacity to deliver 3,500 vaccines a week", it explained.

Faisal Tuddy, Asda superintendent pharmacist, said: “We are incredibly proud to…play our part in helping the NHS roll out its vaccination programme.

“Many of the people who will attend the store today have been shielding at home for months and we hope receiving the vaccine is the first step towards a return to normality for them,” he added.

“Iconic sites”

NHSE&I also highlighted: an Islamic education centre in Derby; Bolton Wanderers Football Club; an Ikea store; the Crick Institute; the London and Sunderland Nightingale hospitals; Salisbury and Blackburn Cathedrals; the Black Country Museum; a mosque in Birmingham; and a Sikh Gurdwara in Bedford, as “iconic sites” where people are being invited to get their COVID-19 vaccine.

“Millions of people in the top four priority groups including people aged 70 years old and over and those who are deemed to be clinically extremely vulnerable, are being invited to arrange a vaccination site through the national booking service,” NHSE&I said.

“Those who cannot or do not want to travel can wait to be invited to their local GP service or hospital.”

Earlier this week, C+D spoke to a pharmacist participating in an initiative to vaccinate housebound patients against COVID-19. More than 400 vaccinations were administered during the first day of the initiative.

“Accessible and relaxed” pharmacy service

Association of Independent Multiple Pharmacies (AIMP) CEO Dr Leyla Hannbeck welcomed the additional 46 sites going live today and said “more are in the pipeline for next week”.

“I visited one of our members, McParlands Pharmacy in north London, last week and saw how effectively and professionally the team are delivering the COVID-19 vaccination service alongside their day-to-day pharmacy services.

“Patient feedback gave a resounding thumbs up for community pharmacy — accessible, convenient and relaxed were just some of the sentiments unanimously expressed by patients,” she explained.

“We have been very keen to highlight to the government and colleagues in NHSE&I that the community pharmacy network is willing and able to help with this historic programme and we are committed as a sector to working with the government and NHSE&I colleagues to make this happen,” Dr Hannbeck stressed.

Chair of the National Pharmacy Association Andrew Lane, said: “Pharmacies are becoming part of the COVID-19 vaccination infrastructure in more and more parts of England. It is great that many independent pharmacies are rising to the challenge, alongside the national chains, GPs, hospitals and others, in this vital combined effort. 

"We are confident that pharmacies will become increasingly core to the success of the vaccination programme as it rolls out. They can reach into communities across the land, to vaccinate, advise and care,” he added.

Are you or your pharmacy involved in the COVID-19 vaccination programme? Let C+D know and share your experiences with fellow pharmacists and staff on the C+D Community. Register for free, or access the site via LinkedIn.

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