Roll-out of COVID vaccines to local pharmacies would clear up confusion for communities desperate to get the jab
The roll-out of the COVID vaccine to be administered at community chemists would resolve some of the uncertainties about where people can get it from, says a pharmacist.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock has set an ambitious target of having 14m people vaccinated against Covid-19 by mid-February and as major hubs open up, calls have been made for the country's 11,000-plus pharmacies to assist in the efforts for people who are less mobile.
Those calls are being backed by the Yorkshire Evening Post and its sister titles across the UK, after yesterday challenging Boris Johnson to ensure that every citizen is only a short walk away from a vaccine centre - and urged him to deploy the country’s network of 11,000 pharmacies as front-line Covid vaccine centres as part of that.
Umar Effendi, the on-duty pharmacist at East Leeds Pharmacy said it had not yet been called up to help but would be willing - and that it could clear up confusion for some of the pharmacy's older customers.
"Normality is what the community is waiting for, especially the elderly patients that are coming in - a lot should be shielding but they are just trying to get the vaccine, they are waiting for a call from a GP but don't really know what is happening."
Royal Pharmaceutical Society president Sandra Gidley said that if each of those 11,000 pharmacies did 20-a-day, that is 1.3m-a-week extra vaccines that can be provided, very often to those who are hardest to reach.
However, one pharmacist expressed concern about the hours pharmacies would be expected to open for in order to be able to give out the jabs.
Jon Kaye is the superintendent pharmacist at Milford Chemist in east Leeds.
He said: "When they first asked for volunteers they said we had to commit to seven days a week and 8am-8pm. A lot were reluctant to sign up because of the long hours and that commitment, but, would have been happy to do it like the flu jab. We did not want to sign up and then say that we couldn't do it. If it was eight hour shifts some would be able to incorporate into normal practice."
Mr Kaye added that he had been surprised by the lack of queries to his pharmacy about how and when people could get the vaccination.
He said: "One or two have asked but not a lot, I have been surprised. Usually when these things come out there is a lot of interest and people saying when can they get it. They are worried it has not been tested properly. All our staff have been vaccinated and it is safe, but people are worried with it being new. But, I think most people would be quite happy to have it, the more and more people that have it done."
More than 370,000 people in England have received two doses of a Covid vaccine, according to NHS data, despite ministers and scientists previously saying that first doses were going to be prioritised.
A total of 2.33m Covid-19 vaccinations had taken place in England up to January 10, according to provisional figures published by NHS England.
Of this number, 1.96m were the first dose of the vaccine and 374,613 were the second dose. NHS England boss Sir Simon Stevens said some "clinical decisions" were taken to give the follow-up jabs.
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