Pharmacies that can administer up to 400 vaccines a week have been asked to apply to become vaccination sites, after NHS England’s initial requirement of 1,000 jabs per week has been lowered in certain cases.

In a letter sent to pharmacy contractors yesterday (16 February), NHS England said those who could provide up to 400 vaccines per week would be considered in areas where a site offering 1,000 vaccines per week is ‘unlikely to be viable’, or where an additional site is needed.

It comes after The Pharmacist learned that more pharmacies would be receiving an ‘expression of interest letter’ after the NHS broadened out the eligible cohorts.

NHS England’s letter said: ‘As you are aware NHS England and NHS Improvement ran a designation process for pharmacy contractors to apply to become a pharmacy LVS [Local Vaccination Services] site at the end of 2020 and we have been working with contractors to successfully set up community pharmacy-led Local Vaccination Services according to local need during the first weeks of 2021.

‘We are now in a position where we have taken stock of those applications and have assessed where we think we may need more provision.’

The letter states that the terms for this designation are the same as the current Local Enhanced Service (LES) agreement, which says the contractor will be required to administer at least 1,000 doses each week.

However, the letter adds: ‘We will also be asking for expressions of interest from contractors who could provide up to 400 vaccines per week. These sites may be considered where a site offering 1,000 vaccines per week is unlikely to be viable, or where an additional site would offer significant benefits for specific patient cohorts.’

There are currently 192 pharmacies offering the vaccine after applying in the first designation process in December.

NHS England initially said there would be a limited number of sites commissioned to deliver the service, as the majority of pharmacies would be unlikely to be able to meet the requirements.

Priority areas

Alongside the letter, NHS England published a list of priority locations where contractors are most needed, however it said it will also welcome applications from outside these areas.

Priority areas include London, the South East, the Midlands, North East and Yorkshire and the South West.

Following the expressions of interest, there will be another designation and assessment process. Those who are selected will be paid £12.58 per vaccination or £25.16 if the vaccination requires two doses, as stated in the LES agreement.

Applications should be made using NHS England’s online designation form by Sunday 28 February.