An additional 11 of LloydsPharmacy’s 1,400 stores in the UK have been commissioned to deliver the Covid booster jab, the multiple has confirmed bringing the total branches offering the service to 16.
On Tuesday (14 September)the health secretary announced that the booster jab vaccination programme would begin ‘early next week’ for everyone over 50 and people with underlying health conditions.
This also includes adult household contacts of immunosuppressed individuals.
Boots UK has also confirmed it will also be involvement involved in the rollout of phase three, however, it has not said how many of its pharmacies will offer the jab.
‘Stores that will offer Covid-19 boosters will be confirmed soon following discussions with the NHS’, Boots said in a statement yesterday.
The multiple It said it had created more ‘special vaccination hubs’’ — which were put in place to administer first and second Covid-19 vaccinations — in additional pharmacies to facilitate the booster programme.
In July, NHS England and Improvement (NHSE&I) initially said it planned to recruit an additional 1,000 community pharmacies in England and asked pharmacies to submit expressions of interest ahead of the September phase three rollout.
However, NHSE&I has not confirmed how many additional pharmacies have been recruited so far.
It follows guidance, published April, that suggested community pharmacy would be taking a large role in the autumn programme.
Pharmacies will need the capacity to deliver 3.5 million vaccinations a week over the booster period, it explained.
Community pharmacies are ready
Commenting on the recent booster announcement, Leyla Hannbeck, chief executive of the Association of Independent Multiple Pharmacies (AIMp) said that the Government ‘must use community pharmacies to deliver booster jabs’.
She said: ‘Community pharmacies are ready to play a full part in the delivery of Covid booster jabs and must be called upon.
‘With GPs already struggling to cope and busy A&E departments, pharmacies should be used to the maximum this winter because we can help take the pressure off the NHS.
‘Last year we smashed flu vaccination records and delivered nearly 3 million flu jabs. Community pharmacy teams have also been working at many Covid vaccination sites and the feedback from patients has been overwhelmingly positive, praising their professionalism. We’re known and trusted by our patients. We’re here to play our part,’ she added.
Similarly, Thorrun Govind, chair of the Royal Pharmaceutical Society (RPS) English Pharmacy Board highlighted the good work community pharmacy had done during phases 1 and 2.
‘Pharmacists across the NHS and in the community have played a central role in the successful implementation of the Covid-19 vaccination programme.
‘We’d like to see the continued widespread involvement of pharmacy in vaccinating patients and providing the booster programme,’ she explained.
During a speech at the July’s 2021 National Pharmacy Association (NPA) Conference, held virtually this summer (5 July), the minister for primary care, Jo Churchill, said that she wanted pharmacies to administer ‘more [Covid] vaccines and more flu vaccines’.
The minister said she expected pharmacies to play a major role in the rollout of the booster vaccine, with the number of vaccines the sector delivers going up ‘significantly’ as the number of pharmacy-led sites delivering the vaccine increases over the next few months.