Ministers accused of ignoring ‘army’ of high street pharmacies in coronavirus vaccine rollout

Royal Pharmaceutical Society president Sandra Gidley said there were thousands of small pharmacies who were “ready, willing and able” to assist in the rollout of the programme.

Ms Gidley said that under the Government plans some larger pharmacies were involved, but they had to be able to guarantee they could deliver at least 950 doses per day.

She added that while it was necessary to use larger pharmacies for the rollout of the Pfizer vaccine, the arrival of the Oxford-AstraZeneca jab meant it could be administered by much smaller units.

“We are already used to delivering the flu vaccine. You have got an army of trained vaccinators who are ready, willing and able to play and part,” she told the BBC Radio 4 Today programme.

“With the AstraZeneca vaccine there is no reason why that could not be delivered through community pharmacies.

“There are over 11,000 pharmacies. If each of those does 20-a-day that is 1.3 million-a-week extra vaccines that can be provided, very often to those who are hardest to reach.

“Why would any government not want to do that?”

Simon Dukes, chief executive of the Pharmaceutical Negotiating Services Committee, said that using pharmacies would be far more effective than recruiting retired medics, as the Government was trying to do.

“Rather than scrabbling around trying to find retired GPs and nurses and anyone who has possibly dated skills, you’ve got an army of thousands of pharmacists up and down the country who administer the flu jab every winter,” he told The Daily Telegraph.

“We’ve been telling the NHS that we’re ready, willing and desperate to help. But we’ve been met by a de facto silence.”

“We will make sure that community pharmacies and the independent sector are involved and that we deliver what I think is a credible plan that the NHS has put together to hit that target of 13 million vaccinations … by mid-February,” he told Today.

Additional reporting by PA Media.


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