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Scottish pharmacies will help deliver COVID-19 jabs, Sturgeon confirms

Ms Sturgeon said more information will be shared over the next few weeks

Pharmacies in Scotland will take part in the roll-out of the COVID-19 vaccine when it is made available, Scotland's first minister Nicola Sturgeon has said.

Ms Sturgeon said the details of the programme delivery will be shared over the next few weeks but confirmed the vaccine will be given to “priority groups across the whole country”.

Earlier this week (November 10), health secretary Matt Hancock told MPs that the vaccine will be deployed “as effectively as possible right across the whole UK” once it is “clinically safe”.

“The starting principle is that we will roll out the vaccine according to clinical need across the whole UK, across all four nations, working of course through the devolved NHSs, which are going to be critical to actually delivering the vaccine in the devolved nations,” he said.

The details for a community pharmacy COVID-19 vaccination service in England are still being discussed, with the Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee (PSNC), the Department of Health and Social Care (DH) and NHS England and Improvement (NHSE&I) having entered “urgent negotiations” about the sector’s role in a vaccination programme, the negotiator announced last week (November 6).

“Nationally co-ordinated approach”

Speaking in Parliament earlier this week (November 10), Ms Sturgeon said Scotland will have a “nationally co-ordinated approach” to distribute the vaccine, with delivery taking place at health board level.

"There will be a number of places and premises, including local premises like pharmacies, across the country that will be part of that programme,” she told MSPs.

Ms Sturgeon said people who will receive the Pfizer vaccine might need “two doses three weeks apart”, which will make the logistics “even more complicated”.

Community Pharmacy Scotland (CPS) director of operations Matt Barclay told C+D this week (November 9) that the sector is yet to receive any details on the service specifications and remuneration.

“Like our colleagues at PSNC, we will be engaging with [the] Scottish government and primary care colleagues on the requirements for any COVID-19 vaccination programme and then ascertaining where community pharmacy can play our part,” he said.

Mr Barclay also warned that a COVID-19 vaccination programme could bring “challenges in terms of logistics and administration”.

Wales: Planning “well underway”

Wales’s chief medical officer Dr Frank Atherton said plans for the delivery of a COVID-19 vaccine in the country are “well underway”. 

“We have well-developed plans to roll out any approved vaccine across priority groups in Wales, but in the meantime, we all need to continue doing everything we can to continue to prevent the spread of coronavirus,” he said in a statement this week (November 11).

Dr Atherton said the vaccine will be given to “health and social care workers, care home residents and staff” before being rolled out to “older people in age bands from next year”. However, he stressed that it could be a “long time until the whole population has been vaccinated”.

NI: Half a million doses by Spring 2021

Community Pharmacy Northern Ireland (CPNI) chief executive Gerard Greene told C+D yesterday (November 12) that Northern Ireland could receive “around 570,000 doses in Spring 2021, which could immunise 285,000 people”. “A great deal of management will be needed to ensure safe inoculation occurs,” he said.  

“When the COVID-19 vaccine is ready to be administered, community pharmacy will work with our health colleagues to roll it out in a safe, appropriate and timely manner,” he added.

A spokesperson for the Northern Ireland Department of Health (DH) told C+D that “rollout details will follow once a vaccine has been approved”.

“The DH will be working with colleagues across HSC in preparation for that,” they added.

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