Community pharmacies in England have delivered approximately 33m Covid-19 vaccinations as of 20 December 2022, health minister Maria Caufield revealed today.

The parliamentary under-secretary for the Department of Health and Social Care shared the figures today in response to a parliamentary written question from Conservative MP Bob Seely.

Malcolm Harrison, chief executive of the Company Chemists’ Association, said that the numbers were proof that pharmacies can deliver the services that patients and the public need, ‘when they are supported with appropriate and recurrent funding’.

He added that community pharmacy teams had the skills and the willingness to deliver vaccinations, and should be enabled to do more by allowing pharmacy technicians to vaccinate under patient group directions (PGDs).

‘It is increasingly clear that pharmacies can be the natural home for all vaccinations. This would bring in much needed investment into the sector but also keep people away from ever-stretched GP surgeries’, he said.

In December, a report by the think tank Policy Exchange recommended that community pharmacies in England should be commissioned to deliver all adult vaccinations through national enhanced services.

It also said that pharmacy technicians should be allowed to deliver vaccinations through a PGD, that  pharmacy, nursing and medical students should have the option of delivering seasonal vaccinations where appropriate, and that pharmacies should have access to patient records to support ‘opportunistic vaccination’ in the community.

In October, the National Association of Primary Care (NAPC) president Ash Soni told The Pharmacist that clinical services such as vaccinations could help community pharmacies to survive.

Earlier this week, the CCA said that community pharmacies were running on a shortfall of £67,000 per pharmacy each year, compared to if the funding contract had risen in line with inflation year on year.

Community pharmacy contractor Waqas Ahmed told The Pharmacist that the inflation-adjusted funding would be the difference for him being able to invest in clinical services.

‘That’s an extra pharmacist or two extra support staff’, he said. ‘If I had that, it would enable me to do absolutely anything else. At the moment, I can’t, because I’m struggling to pay the staff that I’ve got.’

A recent report by the Pharmacists’ Defence Association (PDA) sets out a vision for community pharmacies as high-street healthcare clinics, with two pharmacists per pharmacy to ensure capacity to oversee both dispensing and clinical services.