This is because the vaccine “requires particular cold storage requirements”, which are “outside of those required for seasonal flu vaccines”, a Rowlands spokesperson told C+D.
The Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine needs to be stored at -70˚C before being thawed out and as soon as it is delivered to vaccine sites, it must be stored in a fridge at a temperature range between +2˚C and +8˚C before being reconstituted.
Due to the characteristics of the vaccine, the government “has decided, understandably, to focus on certain sites where mass vaccinations can take place while observing social distancing rules,” the spokesperson added.
“That will not include Rowlands pharmacies for the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine,” they clarified.
The Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine was approved for use in the UK last week (December 2), following a recommendation from the MHRA.
“In discussions with government”
Rowlands believes that community pharmacies will “eventually play a central role” in the delivery of COVID-19 vaccinations due to the sector’s experience in delivering flu jabs, the spokesperson said.
The multiple is “in discussions with government” to understand what part it can play in the “next stage of the vaccination programme”, the spokesperson added.
“Other potential COVID-19 vaccines that do not require extreme cold storage are currently under review by the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA), which may then… be administered in a community pharmacy setting,” the spokesperson said.
Rowlands sees community pharmacy as “ideally placed” to deliver the COVID-19 vaccine, as the sector “has years of experience of successfully delivering flu vaccinations”, the spokesperson said.
A Lloydspharmacy spokesperson told C+D today the multiple “has nominated pharmacies” for the NHS England and NHS Improvement pharmacy site designation process.
However, only a “limited number” of pharmacies in England will be selected to start administering the vaccine from “late December or early January”, while some health boards in Scotland could commission community pharmacies to help with local vaccination programmes.