Andrew Hodgson, superintendent pharmacist at Andrews Pharmacy, Macclesfield in Cheshire, talks to Saša Janković about reaching 100,000 jabs with his on-site Covid vaccination service.

Service type: On-site covid vaccination service

Name and location of pharmacy: Andrews Pharmacy, Macclesfield in Cheshire

Name of superintendent pharmacist: Andrew Hodgson

When did you start offering this service?

We started on 14 January 2021, as one of the first six vaccination sites in the country.

Why did you start offering this service?

I'm quite commercial but I also thought it would be great to get involved in offering this service so we put in our ‘expression of interest’ in late November/ early December last year. Pharmacy talks about doing stuff all the time, so I thought we should just get on with it.

It’s a brilliant thing for pharmacy to do and a good business decision – and it’s definitely raised the profile of the pharmacy, especially as a lot of the PCNs local to us have subsequently bailed on offering phase 3 Covid vaccinations.

How much did it cost to set up the service?

As the year has gone one we have made some changes to the building to make the vaccination service distinct from the pharmacy, and there have been costs associated with that. We have eight vaccination ‘pods’ in the building, and formed a new entrance to patients could get to them without having to walk through the pharmacy itself to get to them.

What, if any, training did you or other team members have to undergo?

There has been some extra training for everybody. Pre-pandemic we ran a busy travel vaccination service but I was the only person vaccinating for that, but now we have mixed teams vaccinating for Covid, including some retired pharmacist who have returned back on the register temporarily to help out.

In a nutshell, what does the service involve?

I bought this building – called The Oval, as it is oval shaped – back in 2010, when it had been used as a pub. I put in power and data into a number of rooms so I could rent them out to allied health professional, but since Covid these have been taken over as our vaccination pods.

We largely take bookings for the Covid vaccination service, but if we have walk-ins and we have capacity we try to accommodate them as well.

At the start we were solely offering the AstraZeneca jab but now we have three: AZ, Pfizer and Moderna. The challenge is making sure everybody gets the one they are supposed to.

Are there any opportunities to sell OTC or prescription products during or after the consultation?

We could have had better social media and advertising on site in terms of driving people to our other services, but we have ended up doing a lot of PCR tests once people realised we were doing Covid vaccinations.

Before the pandemic our travel service was really busy and has recently picked up again, so now we have an interesting blend of PCR testing, travel vaccination, and covid and flu.

How have patients responded to the service?

People are really happy to be able to come and have their Covid vaccinations here. Interestingly a lot of second dose people are no-shows for some reason – probably because the rate of vaccination drops with age, and it’s the elderly and most vulnerable who want vaccinating the most.

On the down side, I've been working 70-80 hours a week since January but it still floors me when people criticise us for something that is so incidental, like having to wait for their jabs. Queue management is a big deal as you always get some people who arrive early and some who arrive late, so you can get a load of people all at the same time, but the vast majority get through in about 20 minutes.

We also had one incident of anti-vax graffiti one Saturday. We’d done a full clinic and when I finished I had to spend hours cleaning it up.

Roughly how often each month do you carry out the service?

We are coming up to having done 100,000 Covid jabs by mid-January, and we will also have delivered 9,000 flu vaccinations this season.

Would you recommend offering this service to other contractors?

I think Covid boosters will end up on a similar time frame to flu vaccinations moving forward so contractors should be prepared to get involved. We focus on it the same way we do other services, but I can foresee problems if contractors think they can just bolt it on. You’ve got to plan how you do it and do it well. For example, one vaccination site near us in the third wave had a patient have a heart attack after their jab and they didn’t have a defibrillator on site. They did save the guy but it took an hours CPR to do so. If you are going to do Covid jabs do it properly and invest in it to make it a completely safe service. See the opportunity, commit and don't be afraid.

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