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Asda in-store pharmacy approved to deliver Covid vaccine

By Rachel Carter and Isabel Shaw

13 Jan 2021

Asda has been commissioned by NHS England to provide Covid vaccinations from an in-store pharmacy in Birmingham, the supermarket chain has announced.

Vaccinations will be administered by pharmacy staff to priority groups from 25 January, it said.

The Birmingham supermarket is adapting its clothing department to make space for the vaccination centre, Asda said, which will have the capacity to administer 250 jabs per day.

The site is the first Asda pharmacy to be approved to deliver the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine – but the chain said it has also offered NHS England ‘full use’ of its 238 in-store pharmacies to support the rollout of the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine.

‘Asda is continuing to work with Public Health England and NHS England to assess other sites within its estate that could support this programme,’ the announcement said.

Greater role for pharmacy 

This comes as the Government published its vaccine delivery plan on Monday (11 January), which set out the role of pharmacies in the vaccination programme.

The document said there would be 1,200 local vaccination sites operating by the end of January, which ‘mobilise general practice’, working together in groups of PCNs ‘plus large and small community pharmacy sites’.

It added: ‘The early community pharmacy sites will be able to offer significant numbers of appointments. Community pharmacies are integral parts of local communities and will be accessible and approachable places from which to deliver vaccination.’

NHS England has so far confirmed 200 pharmacy-led sites following its designation process in December, with some of these due to have started vaccinations this week.

A spokesperson for NHS England told the Pharmacist today (13 January) that it would be issuing more information on community pharmacy’s involvement in the programme ‘shortly’.

Other pharmacy vaccination sites

Woolwich Late Night Pharmacy in South East London has also been approved as a vaccination site, with vaccinations due to start from next week. 

Superintendent pharmacist Sobha Sharma Kandel told the Pharmacist today (13 January) that vaccinations will take place in the pharmacy’s three consultation rooms, which are separate from the pharmacy itself. Patients will enter and leave the building through a separate door. 

She said: ‘When we had the site visit, they were partially happy with the layout as people won’t have to walk through the pharmacy to get vaccinated. They were very clear that they did not want the pharmacy side of things to be disturbed by the vaccinating.’

The pharmacy plans to deliver 1000 vaccines per week, Ms Kandel said, but does not yet know how many it will be able to provide to patients daily.

She added: ‘We’re very excited that we and other pharmacists can be part of this effort.’

Boots UK – which has also confirmed its involvement in the vaccination programme – announced on Monday (11 January) that the first of its mass vaccination sites is due to open this week.

Boots pharmacists will be administering the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine from ‘purpose-built facilities’ in a Halifax pharmacy, the multiple said.

Boots added that its two additional vaccination sites in Huddersfield and Gloucester will also open ‘in the near future’ and that ‘discussions are underway’ about the potential for more Boots sites to come on board ‘in the coming months’.

M W Phillips Chemists and Knights Pharmacy have also had their vaccination sites approved by NHS England for involvement in the programme.

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