The NHS must make full use of community pharmacies to roll out the Oxford University /AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine, according to the Company Chemists’ Association (CCA), which represents large community pharmacy operators.
The MHRA has announced today (30 December) that this vaccine has been authorised for use in the UK.
Commenting on today’s announcement, Malcolm Harrison, CEO of the CCA, said: “Today’s announcement is extremely welcome news, particularly when Covid-19 transmission rates are so high. Given the current pressure on hospitals and the wider system, the NHS needs to explore every avenue when considering how to roll out the Covid-19 vaccine.
“Community pharmacies have been something of a ‘secret weapon’ during the pandemic, keeping their doors open throughout to serve their communities. In England, they have already administered more than 1.7 flu million vaccines in the first two months of this year’s flu season, equalling the number they delivered across the whole of last winter.
“As a result, community pharmacy teams have a track record of safely administering vaccine programmes at pace and at scale. Given that the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine requires similar storage to several other vaccines already provided by community pharmacies, our teams are well placed to administer it. We estimate that community pharmacies could administer up to half a million Covid vaccines a week.
“At times this year it has been clear that community pharmacy has not been at the forefront of NHS planning for its Covid response. Now is the time for the NHS to use its secret weapon, in the form of an established network of providers with a proven track record for delivery.
“We look forward to working with partners across the sector, the NHS and others to help make the roll-out of the vaccine a success.”