Thousands of high street pharmacies say they are ‘ready, willing and able’ to assist in the mass rollout of the programme (Picture: Getty Images)
Small pharmacies claim they have been ‘snubbed’ by the Government after their offer to help deliver the coronavirus vaccine was passed over.
The president of the Royal Pharmaceutical Society said there were thousands of high street pharmacies who were ‘ready, willing and able’ to assist in the mass rollout of the programme.
‘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 a part,’ Sandra Gidley 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?’
Some larger pharmacies are involved in the rollout of the programme but they had to guarantee they could deliver 1,000 doses a week.
Ms Gidley claimed although that made sense for the Pfizer vaccine, as it has to be stored and handled in a particular way, the Oxford jab is easier to transport so could be delivered in smaller batches.
Some pharmacies claim they have been ‘snubbed’ by the Government (Picture: PA)
Simon Dukes, chief executive of the Pharmaceutical Negotiating Services Committee, added using pharmacies would be more effective than plans to recruit retired medics.
‘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.’
Vaccine minister Nadhim Zahawi said community pharmacies would be brought into the programme as the number of jabs being delivered is set to increase from next week.
‘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 the Today programme in response.
Vaccine minister Nadhim Zahawi said community pharmacies would be brought into the programme from next week (Picture: PA)
It comes after Boris Johnson insisted the vaccine would be rolled out ‘as fast as we possibly can’ at last night’s Downing Street press conference.
He said: ‘Yes, it is a huge effort – the biggest vaccination programme in the history of this country.’
Further details on the number of vaccinations carried out are expected on Thursday and will be released daily from Monday next week.
Professor Chris Whitty, England’s chief medical officer, warned the vaccine timetable was ‘realistic but not easy’.
‘The NHS is going to have to use multiple channels to get this out, but they are very determined to do this,’ he said, ‘But that does not make it easy.’
An NHS spokesperson told Metro.co.uk that when the NHS first put out the call for community pharmacies to join the vaccination programme, there were some initial criteria which had to be met, including being able to deliver 1,000 doses per week.
‘Pharmacies are already working with GPs to deliver the vaccine in many areas of the country and as more supply becomes available, community pharmacists able to administer large numbers of vaccine will be the first to play a role in the NHS’ phased vaccination programme, the biggest in the health service’s history,’ they added.
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