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Covid-19 vaccination service: ‘We’ve had really good uptake’

pharmacies booster vaccine

By Saša Janković

07 Jul 2021

Steven McMorran, pharmacist and manager at Seafront Pharmacy in Tenby, Pembrokeshire, tells Saša Janković about running a Covid-19 vaccination service in his pharmacy

Service type: Covid-19 vaccination service

Name and location of pharmacy: Seafront Pharmacy, Tenby, Pembrokeshire – part of the Evans Pharmacy group

Name of pharmacist: Steven McMorran

Why did you start offering this service?

We set up the Covid-19 vaccination service in our pharmacy in March 2021 order to help out with the national push to get as many people second-jabbed as possible. Our local Health Board wanted to get local community pharmacies on board in the roll out of second vaccinations to make the most of available capacity, and so they didn’t have to rely on the mass vaccination centres (MVCs), which are a more expensive option. They are also aware that when it comes to rolling out the booster jab they will need to get pharmacy involved, so it made sense to do that sooner rather than later. After all, community pharmacies are everywhere in rural west Wales towns, which makes them a much handier place for people to go for their jabs.

How much did it cost to set up the service?

The way the vaccination programme has been in run in Wales is that you are supplied with a box of bulk stock including the vaccine vials, so the only cost to the pharmacy is in freeing up the staffing hours of the pharmacist or dispensary to do the jabs. However, if you deliver 20 jabs a day you get paid about £250 for it, which covers the locum fees and so pretty much balances that out.

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

There was some extra training that Community Pharmacy Wales put out that some of our vaccinators did online which took about half a day – although I’d been working with CPW externally so had covered it already.

In a nutshell, what does the service involve?

Our service runs Monday to Wednesday only, as these are the days I’m in the pharmacy.

All Covid vaccinations are booked centrally, so when NHS Wales calls or writes to people to invite them for their jab the system assigns them to this pharmacy if it is their nearest. This means it’s out of our hands, but actually this works fine for us because at least it means we don’t have to spend time ringing round to invite people ourselves.

In the early days, we did end up with a few spare doses at the end of some days so we were able to offer them to walk-ins, and one time we called our local Fire Service staff in as the fire station is right next to us and we knew they were probably due for their second jabs.

How have patients responded to the service?

Some people have been quite surprised to be coming in to the pharmacy for their jab and have asked us if they were in the right place as they were expecting to have to go back to one of the MVCs. Tenby is a seaside town and it’s mainly pedestrianised, so people have been happy that they can just walk in for their jab on their way home from work, or when they are popping into town.

There hasn’t been much vaccine hesitancy here as our population is mostly retirees and the elderly, and they understand that the benefits of the jab outweigh the risks for them, so they are happy to have it. We’ve had a really good uptake and hardly had anyone who didn’t turn up, unless they had got a spare elsewhere and forgotten to cancel their slot with us – and even then this wasn’t a huge problem for us as we don’t pay for the stock in the first place so it’s not a financial hit.

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

We must have vaccinated somewhere around 500 people with their second jabs. Tenby is a small town, but that’s a lot of locals.

Would you recommend offering this service to other contractors?

Pharmacies will be needed for the booster programme once that is rolled out, and in Wales that will probably follow what is recommended in England: for the over 70s, the clinically vulnerable, and health and social care staff. Depending on what’s announced we expect to have a biggish role in that, so our current clinic feels like it’s given us a kind of pilot run for what’s to come, and I anticipate that the booster programme will hopefully run alongside our usual flu vaccination service.

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