Community pharmacy-led vaccination sites will start administering the Oxford/AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine ‘from next week’, NHS England’s director for primary care Nikki Kanani has said on Twitter.

In response to a question about how the Oxford vaccine – which was authorised for use on 30 December – will be rolled out via community pharmacy, Dr Kanani tweeted that it would start ‘from next week’ and would involve ‘scaling up as per other LVS [local vaccination sites]’.

NHS England has now also published a local enhanced service (LES) agreement, which sets out how it will commission a Covid-19 vaccination service directly from community pharmacy.

This comes after community pharmacies were invited to apply to become a designated vaccination site at the end of November, with applicants due to be informed of the outcome on 18 December.

An NHS England spokesperson told the Pharmacist today (4 January): ‘Community pharmacies are already a key part of rolling out the vaccination through existing sites and pharmacy-led sites will begin vaccinating in the coming days and weeks.’

Designated sites

NHS England has previously said that it only plans to commission ‘selected’ pharmacies to lead sites as it does not expect the majority of contractors to be able to meet the necessary requirements.

In a letter sent to contractors on 27 November, NHS England said: ‘Due to the likelihood of complex logistics in this new supply chain, there will be a limited number of sites commissioned to deliver high volumes of vaccines mostly at a separate site, for 12-hour days, seven days a week.

‘We expect to commission fewer community pharmacy sites than GP PCN-led centres,’ it added.

Under the LES agreement, selected pharmacy sites must agree the number of vaccinations they can deliver each week with NHS England but will be expected to administer a minimum of 1,000. 

Contractors will be paid £25.16 on completion of administering the second vaccine dose to each patient, the document said, which is made up of two service payments of £12.58.

The NHS England spokesperson confirmed that it has now written to the designated pharmacy sites.

Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine

The Oxford University/AstraZeneca vaccine is the second Covid-19 vaccine to be authorised by the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA).

According to the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC), more than a million people in the UK have already been vaccinated with the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine, which was rolled out in December.

DHSC said the first Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccinations – which started today (4 January) – will be delivered ‘at hospitals for the first few days as is standard practice’ before the bulk of supplies are sent to ‘hundreds of GP-led services and care homes later in the week’.