The Labour party has called on the Government to make better use of community pharmacies to expand capacity and speed up the vaccination of 12- to 15-year-olds.
This comes as new analysis from the party has suggested that delays to the vaccination rollout could mean that some 12- to 15-year-olds may not get their Covid vaccine until February next year – 15 weeks after the Government’s initial target for offering the vaccine to all eligible teenagers.
Speaking on GB News this morning (24 November), Kate Green, Labour’s shadow education secretary, said: ‘We’ve got 1.8 million young people still waiting for the vaccine’.
‘This is because the Government has not put in enough capacity and not made sure there are enough places for young people to get the vaccine or enough people to administer it,’ she explained.
‘This is why we are calling on the Government to make better use of pop-up clinics and community pharmacies and to bring back retired clinicians. It is really important that we do that swiftly, we have had 200,000 children out of class every week since September and this is having a really big impact on their learning,’ she added.
Vaccines were made available to 12-15 yearolds on 20 September, and were initially only delivered by in schools.
However, since 22 October, certain community pharmacy-led vaccination sites have been able to offer the Covid vaccine to 12-15 year olds.
Only sites which receive an agreement in writing from NHS England are allowed to provide the service.
The Pharmacist has asked NHSE how many pharmacy-led sites have been approved to vaccinate the cohort so far.
In November, the shadow health secretary urged ministers to make greater use of community pharmacy to do more Covid vaccines to fix the ‘stalling’ booster vaccination programme.
Speaking outside of Yakub’s Chemist in Leicester, Jonathan Ashworth, Leicester South MP, said that the Government needed to enlist ‘more’ community pharmacies to provide vaccines so that more of the population are covered.
He also called on the Government to provide ‘more support’ for community pharmacies to enable the vaccines to be delivered.
In April, NHSE said that community pharmacies would be expected to deliver 3.5 million vaccines per week over the booster period.
Eligible groups include everyone over 50 and people with underlying health conditions that make them vulnerable to Covid. It also includes adult household contacts of immunosuppressed individuals.
In July, pharmacy sites that could administer 100 Covid vaccines per week were called forward to submit expressions of interest to deliver the booster.