Pharmacies currently providing the Covid-19 vaccine are being asked by NHS England (NHSE) to extend their service provision contracts until 31 August 2024.
The extension covers a potential spring booster programme, with the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) set to publish their guidance soon.
While the fee for the extension period remains at £7.54 per vaccination, NHSE has agreed that an additional payment of £2.50 per administered vaccine would be paid for the spring campaign.
The agreed additional payment, negotiated by Community Pharmacy England (CPE), is in recognition that a spring booster programme would not benefit from cost efficiencies linked to co-administration of Covid-19 and flu vaccines, which was part of NHSE’s rationale for a reduction in fees imposed last year.
Alongside these fees, pharmacy owners that vaccinate a housebound patient in their home (not in a care home) will be able to claim an additional £10 fee.
Alastair Buxton, director of NHS Services at CPE, said: ‘The additional supplemental fee for the spring Covid-19 booster programme is a welcome move by NHS England in response to the case we put to them on the need for additional funding.’
However, Mr Buxton added that the CPE does not believe that the baseline funding for the service is adequate.
He said: ‘Despite the arguments for increased funding we put to NHS England, the baseline funding doesn’t recognise the recent inflationary increases in costs pharmacy owners have suffered, nor will it provide for the entirely predictable increases in costs which will be seen over the year ahead, such as the increase in the national minimum wage.’
Pharmacies already contracted to provide the Covid-19 vaccination have until 22 February to let their local commissioner know if they are able to continue providing the service between 31 March and 31 August 2024 and are happy for their contract to be extended.
This follows news that service provider Pharmadoctor is offering community pharmacies a patient group direction package that could see them delivering private Covid vaccinations ‘within weeks’.
Boots and Superdrug are also looking into private provision of Covid vaccines.