The Comirnaty (Pfizer-BioNTech) Covid vaccine will be available to pharmacies to offer privately as of next month, it has been announced.
The move comes after a licensing change from the Medicines and Healthcare Regulatory Agency (MHRA) which has made the Comirnaty vaccine available for private sale in Great Britain.
The Comirnaty vaccine needs to be stored at -80 ºC, and previously only the NHS was licensed to thaw, re-label and distribute the vaccine.
But last week’s licensing change means that non-NHS manufacturers will be able to thaw and distribute the product to private vaccination providers.
In response, Pfizer said it was making its Covid vaccine ‘available for supply to high street pharmacies, occupational health providers and private healthcare companies across Great Britain for sale to the public from March 2024’.
This vaccine, which comes amid the ‘ongoing impact of Covid-19 and demand for the vaccine’, will be available from pharmacies across England, Scotland and Wales, it said.
Dr Gillian Ellsbury, primary care medical director, Pfizer UK said: ‘As we move from a pandemic to an endemic state, we need to ensure we remain ready to respond to this constantly evolving and unpredictable virus.
‘Vaccines remain an important pillar in helping to prevent serious illness or hospitalisation as a result of Covid-19.
‘By enabling the wider availability of the Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine we are facilitating choice and access for those that are not eligible to receive it through the NHS programme but want the option of a Covid-19 vaccine.’
The move comes as pharmacy services provider Pharmadoctor revealed that the 150 independent pharmacies using its Covid vaccination package have received over 1,000 bookings so far.
And some individual pharmacies have received over 80 appointment bookings for covid vaccinations, Pharmadoctor chief executive Graham Thoms told The Pharmacist.
The Pharmadoctor PGD includes both the Comirnaty vaccine and an adapted Novavax vaccine that targets the Omicron XBB 1.5 subvariant, which was recently approved by the MHRA for use in people over 12 years of age in Great Britian.
Other pharmacies, including multiples Boots and Superdrug, have said that they are exploring making private Covid vaccinations available to people outside the NHS-eligible cohort.