‘Significant numbers’ of Welsh pharmacists are likely to become involved in the Covid-19 vaccination programme as the country rolls out the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine, Community Pharmacy Wales (CPW) has said.

This comes as a service specification for the Primary Care Covid-19 Immunisation Scheme (PCCIS) was published today (5 January), enabling health boards to contract community pharmacists to deliver the vaccine.

The scheme provides a mechanism for all primary care providers, including pharmacists and GPs, to enter an arrangement with their local health board to administer the Oxford vaccine, which was approved last week.

The newly approved vaccine is the second to be authorised for use by the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA), after rollout of the first – Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine – started before Christmas. 

A spokesperson for Community Pharmacy Wales told the Pharmacist that all primary care contractors are being ‘treated equally’ in terms of remuneration for administering the vaccine, with a set payment of £12.58 per jab.

‘This equates to £25.16 per patient, where both doses are administered by primary care but also safeguards providers in those instances where only one dose is administered. NHS Wales has also agreed to an additional administration fee of £400 per 1,000 vaccinations,’ the spokesperson said.

They added: ‘CPW is positive about the vaccination programme and we believe community pharmacists will become involved in significant numbers to play our full part in meeting the major public health challenge of 2021.’

Service specification

Under the PCCIS service specification, all primary care providers must meet seven conditions to be considered for participation in the programme.

This includes that all persons involved in administering vaccinations are adequately trained and have completed e-learning specific to the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine, the document said.

It added that all venues must be risk-assessed for transmission of Covid-19 in accordance with local guidance and must have an up-to-date and appropriate level of equipment for resuscitation and anaphylaxis.

‘Facilities must be in place for the assessment and management of patients who are unwell, this must include resources to manage fainting and anaphylaxis/cardiac arrest to a primary care level of skill,’ the document said, and ‘reliance on 999 Paramedics is not appropriate’.

The service specification also states that primary care providers are ‘strongly encouraged’ to work together in ‘cluster groupings’ to boost vaccination rates, regardless of whether or not these groupings have previously in place and ‘irrespective of which primary care services a provider usually provides’.

‘For example, for a GP this may mean administering the vaccine to people who are not registered with the provider administering the vaccine, while for other providers, it could also mean administering vaccines at venues away from their normal working location,’ the document said.

In a statement issued today, CPW’s chief executive Russell Goodway advised contractors wanting to taking part in the PCCIS to contact the relevant individual in the Health Board area where their pharmacy is located.

English pharmacies

In England, the Government is facing calls to involve more community pharmacies in the vaccine rollout.

Community pharmacies were invited to apply to become a designated vaccination site at the end of November 2020, but at the time NHS England said it only planned to commission a ‘selected’ number of pharmacies because it did not expect most to be able to meet the necessary requirements.

NHS England has yet to confirm how many community pharmacy designated sites have been set up, but deputy director for primary care Dr Nikki Kanani said on Twitter yesterday (4 January) that the pharmacy-led sites would start delivering Covid vaccinations ‘from next week’.

A spokesperson for NHS England told the Pharmacist today: ‘Pharmacies are already working with GPs to deliver the vaccine in many areas of the country and as more supply becomes available, many more pharmacists will play a role in the delivering the NHS’s phased vaccination programme, the biggest in the health service’s history.’