The requirement for pharmacy sites to be able to vaccinate 1000 people per week should be dropped to 500 people, the CEO of McKesson has said.

Speaking to Radio 4 listeners earlier this week (13 January), Toby Anderson, CEO of McKesson said ‘a small adjustment’ to the requirements for a Covid-19 site would mean thousands more pharmacies could get involved in the programme.

He said: ‘This would mean that a company like Lloyds for example, could easily do 150,000 vaccines per week from 600 pharmacy locations across the country.

‘The community pharmacies industry could probably do half a million vaccines or more per week - which is a pretty significant contribution to the overall national effort.’

In November 2020, NHS England invited pharmacists to apply to be a vaccination site – but in order to be successful they had to meet a set of criteria, including being able to deliver over 1,000 vaccinations per week.

There are currently 200 community pharmacy-led sites approved to deliver the vaccine, with six having opened their doors to patients yesterday.

According to NHS England and Improvement, 70 more sites are due to begin vaccinating next week, ‘with hundreds opening by the end of the month’.

Mr Anderson said that most community pharmacies are ‘relatively small’, so it is therefore ‘hard to socially distance, store the medicine safely and process those large numbers of patients through a pharmacy’.

But he added that community pharmacy could still do ‘much more’ to help accelerate the pace of the Covid-19 vaccine programme.

First Lloyds site approved

Yesterday (14 January) LloydsPharmacy announced that one of five sites it put forward as vaccination centres has been approved.

The site, John Bell & Croyden, is based in Marylebone and will begin offering the Covid-19 vaccine to eligible patients ‘in the coming weeks’.

Commenting on the announcement, Robin Winfield, general manager of the John Bell & Croyden, said: ‘Our experienced and qualified staff have already been administering Covid-19 tests to hundreds of people and will be going the extra mile to ensure people can receive their Covid-19 vaccine over the coming weeks.’