Frontline health and social care workers including community pharmacy staff have been urged by senior NHS England officials to get vaccinated against Covid-19 ‘as soon as [they] are invited to’.

In a letter sent to healthcare professionals last week (27 January), Dr Keith Ridge, chief pharmaceutical officer at NHS England - along with nine other NHS England chiefs and directors - called on frontline staff to ‘lead by example’ and get vaccinated as soon as they can.

‘As people who work directly with some of those who are most vulnerable, we have a collective duty both to protect ourselves for their sake,’ the letter said.

It added: ‘Ensuring our fantastic staff are kept safe is an extremely high priority for us, but in addition to that, by getting the vaccine you can protect yourself from the virus so you can continue to be there for your family, friends, and those you care for.’

The letter said that employers or a local vaccination team will make arrangements to ensure 100% of eligible staff are able to get vaccinated.

‘If you haven’t had an invite yet, you don’t need to do anything – they will be in touch with details soon,’ it added.

The letter also thanked staff for their ‘continued hard work for those who count on us’ [the NHS].

Online portal Earlier this week, the Pharmacy Defence Association (PDA) launched an online portal that locum pharmacists can use to book their vaccinations.

The portal will be promoted by NHS England and Improvement as part of a national effort to ensure that no one is not included in the Covid-19 vaccination programme.

This comes after the health secretary promised that all frontline health and care workers will be vaccinated by 15 February – and hopefully ‘sooner’.

Speaking at a parliamentary committee evidence session held earlier this month (8 January), Matt Hancock said he will ‘ensure’ that all NHS staff are offered a vaccine ‘in the coming weeks’ and ‘certainly by 15 February’.

He added: ‘I hope we can get through all of [JCVI] category two – which includes all health and social care staff – sooner than 15 February, but that’s the target that we’re committed to hitting.’