As part of efforts to further accelerate the national Covid-19 vaccination drive, high street pharmacies are to begin delivering the life-saving jabs.
Several independent and big brand stores are set to be the first of hundreds of community pharmacies set to offer vaccinations protecting against Covid-19, working with the NHS to ensure those deemed to be of the highest priority receive their jab first.
Over the next two weeks, around two hundred community pharmacies are set to join into the national vaccination network, with additional vaccine supplies set to begin coming online by the end of the month to support the increased demand.
Initially, stores capable of delivering large volumes, while facilitating social distancing, are being selected to help provide the best geographical spread for vaccination centres.
Anyone in the highest risk groups who does not want to travel there, or to a large-scale vaccination centre, can wait to be called forward by their local GP or hospital services by February 15, 2021.
More than 200 hospital sites and around 800 GP-led sites are currently delivering the vaccine, with another 200 GP-run locations set to come online this week.
Seven large-scale vaccination centres also opened this week around the country, one covering each NHS area, with dozens more planned.
Dr Bruce Warner, Deputy Chief Pharmaceutical Officer, said: “The NHS coronavirus vaccination programme, the biggest in health service history, has got off to a great start with more than 2.4 million jabs delivered.
“Pharmacy teams have been working incredibly hard throughout the pandemic and, as we accelerate the vaccination programme, they are playing a vital role in delivering the life-saving jabs to those in their communities.
“We know that people are very keen to get the vaccine but we are appealing to people not to turn up early so that we can maintain social distancing.”
The initial community pharmacy pilot sites to begin delivering vaccinations are located in Halifax, Macclesfield, Widnes, Guildford, Edgware and Telford.
Health and Social Care Secretary, Matt Hancock, added: “It is fantastic that high-street pharmacies will now begin deploying Covid-19 vaccinations.
“Pharmacies sit at the heart of local communities and will make a big difference to our rollout programme by providing even more local, convenient places for those that are eligible to get their jab.
“Pharmacists have worked tirelessly throughout the pandemic, often acting as the first port of call for medical advice – and often staying open when all around have closed. I want to extend my thanks to every pharmacy for their efforts to support the national response to the pandemic and keep people safe.”
People invited to make an appointment through the new national booking service will be given a choice between a vaccination centre or a pharmacy service.
It will not be possible to use the NHS Covid-19 Vaccination Booking Service if you have not received an invitation letter. Doing so risks someone, who has, not being able to get through and book their appointment. It will also not be possible to get a vaccine at a vaccination centre or community pharmacy without an appointment. Doing so risks disrupting the work of NHS staff in protecting those at highest risk.