This is in recognition of the sector’s contribution to the first two phases of the vaccination programme, NHS England and NHS Improvement (NHSE&I) said in a letter sent to community pharmacies and local commissioning bodies yesterday (July 1).
It follows interim advice from the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) to offer COVID-19 booster vaccines from September 2021, in a two-stage programme expected to run alongside the flu vaccination service.
Spread out vaccine delivery centres
Local commissioners should ensure that vaccination capacity is “spread” across community pharmacies and vaccination centres as well as general practice in this third phase of the vaccination rollout programme, the letter said.
While general practice delivered the majority of COVID jabs in phase 1 of the programme, local systems should “prudently plan” for a minimum of 40% and a maximum of 75% of booster vaccines to be given through general practice, it added.
“Spreading capacity across all delivery models will provide resilience and ease pressure on other services and workforces,” the letter said.
NHSE&I plans to publish the community pharmacy service specification early this month, “with a view to confirming those who would like to opt in in mid-to-late July”, it added.
“We are thankful for the efforts of all those involved and are conscious of the pressures being faced that will inevitably continue into autumn/winter,” said the letter.
Pharmacies remain “ready and willing”
Association of Independent Multiple pharmacies (AIMp) CEO Leyla Hannbeck said her organisation “has been a big advocate for more pharmacies across the country to be involved in vaccinating”.
“We were not wrong to ask for that, because as the past few months have shown, there is no doubt that pharmacy has played a key role in the success of this programme. That is why we are keen to see the vast majority of pharmacies in the country deliver this service,” she stressed.
“In the USA, pharmacy’s involvement helped boost the uptake enormously. Our members are ready and willing to help and we will be working closely with colleagues at NHSE&I to ensure pharmacies play a key part in this winter’s immunisation programme,” Dr Hannbeck added.
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