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Appointments at pharmacy vaccination site booked up ‘within minutes’

By Isabel Shaw

19 Feb 2021

A pharmacy group with three Covid vaccination sites is seeing appointments booked up ‘within minutes’ of them going live, the superintendent pharmacist has said.

Pete Horrocks, superintendent pharmacist of the 70-branch Knights Pharmacy group, told the Pharmacist that after a ‘bumpy start’ he is now seeing high demand for the service.

‘Our highest is 350 [vaccinations] in a day, but it’s dependent on stock availability – some of our sites are receiving 1200 vaccines per week and some are receiving 800 doses,’ he said.

‘It would be good to get more notice on future deliveries, but I appreciate the system must juggle a lot of different providers with a variable supply chain coming from the suppliers.’

There are currently 192 pharmacy-led vaccination sites operating, after NHS England commissioned 200 as part of its first designation process in December.

Mr Horrocks’ sites were among the first pharmacies to go live, and he said that local people have been ‘delighted’ to be able to get their vaccine nearby.

‘Before the pharmacy sites went live, people had to go to mass vaccination sites in the city, which for some patients could have been an hour’s drive away – so to have something local on their doorstep is extremely good for them,’ he said.

He added: ‘We had one woman come in the other day to get vaccinated on her 71st birthday, who said it was the best birthday present she could have asked for!’

‘Teething problems’

Meanwhile, Hollowood Chemist on West Street in Crewe – which opened its vaccination site in a Honda bike showroom on 23 January – has also seen the service run ‘more smoothly’ in recent weeks.

Jainil Patel, the clinical lead for the vaccination site, told the Pharmacist that the site had experienced some ‘teething problems’ when it first launched, but he was ‘surprised’ by how well the rollout was going overall and his team is now vaccinating 200 people a day.

‘I was vaccinating at non-pharmacy led sites beforehand and there were loads of queues, but here we’ve got a constant stream of patients coming in with no one having to wait – it’s been good so far,’ he said.

He added: ‘We did not have as many patients as we wanted or expected to have to begin with because patient letters were delayed, but a few weeks after we opened more letters were sent out and we have had patients ever since.’

Earlier this week, NHS England sent out a new expression of interest letter to pharmacies, which invites those able to provide up to 400 vaccines a week to apply – the initial requirement of 1,000 jabs per week being lowered in certain cases.

Last month, the Pharmacist reported that some pharmacies in London were experiencing a lack of bookings for Covid jabs, which they put down to issues with the national booking service.

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