Boots, Superdrug and UK pharmacies push PM for vaccine green light – ‘extreme frustration’

Moderna coronavirus vaccine approved for use in the UK

There is “extreme frustration” that community pharmacies which are unable to deliver at least 1,000 vaccines a week were not allowed to become official vaccination sites. Andrew Lane, who chairs the National Pharmacy Association, had a simple message for Boris Johnson on behalf of 11,400 pharmacies: “We’re here, we’re trained and we will deliver.” He argues that this year pharmacies are at the forefront of “one of the largest flu vaccine campaigns that the country’s ever seen” and are equipped to deliver the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine.

Last week Mr Lane talked with vaccine deployment minister Nadhim Zahawi, and he is hopeful that a change of policy is on the way so the greatest number of people can be vaccinated in the shortest possible time.

He said: “We are just saying that time is of the essence. Even if we can’t begin to administer the vaccine immediately, at least let us begin to plan without delay to achieve that widespread pharmacy engagement in this urgent national effort.”

Mr Lane said a conservative estimate suggests pharmacists could deliver 500,000 vaccines a week, but others say the figure could be as high as 1.3million.

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He said there was “extreme frustration” in the sector with the present rules. NHS England invited applications from pharmacies to become vaccination sites at the end of November, but criteria included the capability of delivering at least 1,000 doses a week.

NHS England was last week assessing just 200 “pharmacy-led” sites, with some due to start vaccinations this week.

Mr Lane said: “Pharmacy teams right across the country just really want to be given that green light to start planning to deliver the AstraZeneca vaccine. As it stands today, there is no process currently in place to allow pharmacies even to express an interest because that gate was closed in December.

An NHS spokeswoman said: “Pharmacies are already working with GPs to deliver the vaccine in many areas of the country. As more supply becomes available, community pharmacists able to administer large numbers of vaccine will play a role in the NHS’s phased vaccination programme, the biggest in the health service’s history.”

Mr Lane called for community pharmacists to be able to get on with the job, saying: “It’s all about getting [people] jabbed quickly. If we can do that safely and quickly then I think we are leading the world in vaccinating our vulnerable people, definitely.

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