Pharmacies in Wales have been commissioned to deliver Covid booster vaccines for the first time.

Swansea Health Board announced this week that it had started to involve pharmacies in the booster programme to ‘ensure the booster is available locally’ and while GPs are ‘busy delivering flu vaccines on top of their usual services,’ the health board said.

Thirteen pharmacies in the Swansea area, along with Vale of Neath Pharmacy in Glynneath, have now responded to the health board’s call for expressions of interest to take part in the booster programme.

Niki Watts, superintendent pharmacist at Vale of Neath Pharmacy, said: ‘We decided to take part because we believe it’s important to help the health board get the population fully vaccinated as quickly as possible.

‘We are located at the heart of the community, so the patients find it easy to access.

‘We have good facilities, including a nice big car park right outside so the patients don’t have to walk very far, and our dedicated consultation rooms where the vaccinations can take place in private,’ he explained.

In September, the Welsh Government accepted the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation’s advice that the booster vaccine dose should be offered no earlier than six months after completion of the primary vaccine course, in the same order as during phase 1.

At the same time, Community Pharmacy Wales (CPW) said that despite there being an ‘appetite for involvement’ there was currently ‘no clarity on the start, the shape or the level of involvement of pharmacies’ in the booster programme.

Local Health Boards in Wales have control over the vaccine programme and each decide the level of involvement of the community pharmacy sector in their area.

The Pharmacist contacted the other six health boards to ask whether they also plan to include pharmacies in the booster programme.

Hywel Dda University Health Board told The Pharmacist today (26 November) that ‘no community pharmacies are currently involved with the booster programme, nor are there any imminent plans to bring them in.

In March, The Pharmacist reported that only 18 of the 713 community pharmacies in Wales had been commissioned to deliver the Covid vaccine, despite calls to boost the sector’s involvement.