Community pharmacies in Wales are likely to be very involved in an annual Covid booster programme if repeat doses are decided to be necessary, a Government official has confirmed.
Speaking to The Pharmacist yesterday (15 December), Andrew Evans, Chief Pharmaceutical Officer in Wales, said it is ‘absolutely the case’ that more pharmacies would be involved in delivering annual Covid boosters if they are required.
‘We’ll see pharmacies hopefully making the same contributions to a [annual booster programme] as they are to the flu vaccine programme,’ he said.
Pharmacies in Wales have delivered record numbers of flu vaccine this flu season; almost double what they provided last year.
‘We know there is real appetite there and real skill,’ Mr Evans said.
‘However, we are also aware that pharmacies can do lots of other things to help the NHS and we do not want to detract them from doing that either,’ he added.
As it stands, very few community pharmacies in Wales are administering the booster and most Covid vaccines are being delivered through hospitals and vaccine centers.
However, The Pharmacist reported last week that more pharmacies in Wales may be used to deliver Covid boosters over the coming weeks to help meet the Government’s new vaccine targets.
This morning, the Welsh Government announced that pharmacies will offer more clinical services to help free up GPs.
This news comes after Pfizer’s chief executive said this month that it is likely that repeat doses of the Covid booster vaccine will be necessary to maintain a high level of protection among populations.
Speaking on Radio 4’s Today programme on 2 December, Pfizer boss Albert Bourla, predicted ‘as least’ 12 months of protection from a booster vaccination.
‘I do not know for sure how long the [immunity from the] booster dose will last. However, I am very confident that it will last at least 12 months.
‘Based on everything we have seen so far, I think it is likely that we will need [boosters] annually to maintain a very robust and a very, very high level of protection,’ he said.
In England, Nadhim Zahawi, former vaccines minister and current education minister revealed last month that ministers are planning to introduce an annual vaccination programme against Covid and any potential variants.
‘Ultimately our plan [is] to be the first major economy to transition from pandemic to endemic and have an annual vaccination programme,’ Mr Zahawi told The Sun.
In November, the Government announced it had secured more than 100 million additional doses of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines, which could be used in future booster programmes in the devolved nations.
Supplies of vaccines for the current booster campaign were secured in August, but the recent deal adds another 114 million doses to the existing order.
The UK is expecting 60 million of the vaccines from Moderna, and 54 million from Pfizer, to be delivered over the next two years.
This new supply will include modified vaccines if they are needed as new variants emerge.