Some community pharmacies in England will be expected to provide a Covid-19 vaccination service under the terms of a new enhanced service, PSNC has said.

Further information on the new community pharmacy enhanced service will be published by NHS England and Improvement (NHSE&I) ‘shortly’, the negotiating body told contractors in an announcement yesterday (13 November).

This comes after Pfizer announced its Covid-19 vaccine candidate is ‘90%’ effective and could be ready ‘by the end of the year’.

A direct enhanced service (DES), which was agreed last week by the BMA and NHS England and Improvement, outlined plans for general practice to lead the delivery of the Covid vaccination programme.

The document said that local pharmacies ‘may be commissioned’ to vaccinate where general practice coverage is not enough.

Pharmacies have an 'important role to play'

Speaking on Radio 4 earlier this week, Matt Hancock said that pharmacists will have an ‘important role to play’ in delivering the Covid-19 vaccination programme.

There are currently two ways in which pharmacies will be able to get involved in the Covid-19 vaccination programme, explained PSNC.

Some pharmacies will be able to provide the Covid-19 vaccination service under the new enhanced service if there are no existing provisions in the local area or the pharmacy is needed as an ‘additional provision.’

However, ‘due to the complexity surrounding its unprecedented mass rollout and the storage requirements for the Pfizer vaccine’ contactors should expect pharmacies involvement to be ‘very different’ from any involvement the sector has in current or previous vaccination programmes, the body added.

It said that this was because the ‘majority’ of pharmacies will not have space or capacity to provide the service.

However, contractors may be able to provide staff, under a private arrangement, to support general practices in their PCN to support the PCN vaccination site and any outreach into care homes.

According to the DHSC, pharmacy teams may be third in line – along with other health and care staff – to receive the vaccine, aftercare home residents and staff, and people over the age of 80.

This is based on interim advice from the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) and is subject to change as more information becomes available, the Government explained.

Earlier this month (November), the chair of the UK vaccine task force confirmed that the UK may be able to launch a Covid vaccination campaign before the end of the year.

Community pharmacy teams are among the asymptomatic NHS workers who will be eligible for a bi-weekly Covid-19 test from the end of next week, NHS England confirmed earlier this week.

Following training on how to use the device, all asymptomatic patient-facing NHS staff will be asked to test themselves at home twice a week before coming into work.