High street pharmacies have offered to help give Covid vaccines - but the Government hasn’t accepted
Current plans for the vaccine rollout will see GPs, nurses and other medical professionals as well as retired volunteers all working to administer vaccines, but ministers are yet to accept the offer of “an army” of trained pharmacists.
Pharmacies such as Lloyds and Boots already administer flu jabs every year and have thousands of staff trained to give vaccines. A representative for the industry has said that pharmacies could increase the UK’s vaccination capacity by as much as 1.3 million people per week.
However, as pharmacies do not generally have cold storage capacity, they would only be able to administer the AstraZeneca jab, as the Pfizer vaccine requires special low temperature storage.
‘Desperate to help’
Speaking to the Telegraph, Chief Executive of the Pharmaceutical Negotiating Services Committee, Simon Dukes, said: "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.
"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've got 11,400 pharmacies with at least one trained pharmacist. So if we vaccinated 20 people a day, that would be more than 1.3 million every week. You need the big hubs, of course you do, but we can help in a substantial way."
How is the vaccine rollout going so far?
At a Downing Street press conference last night (5 Jan) the Prime Minister said that 1.3 million people in the UK have been vaccinated, with the first million vaccinated by 27 December.
With the current target of 13.4 million people vaccinated by mid-February, the UK is behind schedule.
Mr Johnson said: “Yes it is a huge effort - the biggest vaccination programme in the history of this country.”
Chief Medical Officer, Professor Chris Whitty, said: "The NHS is going to have to use multiple channels to get this out, but they are very determined to do this. But that does not make it easy."