Astra-Zeneca vaccine opens way for pharmacies to protect millions against COVID-19

30 Dec 2020

Pharmacies can play a key role in the COVID-19 vaccination programme, following the approval today of the Oxford-Astra Zeneca vaccine, according to the National Pharmacy Association.

This vaccine is easier to distribute and store in pharmacies because it can be kept at normal fridge temperature.

Chair of the National Pharmacy Association, Andrew Lane, said: “The Oxford Astra-Zeneca vaccine is a wonderful achievement and it gives hope that this dreadful pandemic can be defeated soon.

“Given the urgent need to vaccinate large numbers of people, the NHS should deploy all the providers at its disposal for this vital task, including community pharmacies. While the number of pharmacies involved initially may be small, we expect the pharmacy network to be a key plank of the programme as it rolls out. By vaccinating record numbers of people against flu this year, pharmacies have shown that they are capable of delivering vaccinations at scale.

“NHS England has acknowledged that pharmacies may be especially important in achieving uptake in poorer communities, because of the relatively high level of access to pharmacies in deprived neighbourhoods. Most people can get to a pharmacy within a matter of minutes, which is a level of access unsurpassed elsewhere in the health service.

“What’s more, people have a high level of trust in their local pharmacists, which could be an important factor in overcoming doubts and misapprehensions about vaccines for COVID-19.

“Provided adequate resources for implementation, pharmacies can help the UK get through the coronavirus pandemic. A firm commitment to meet the extra costs already borne by pharmacies to deliver NHS care during the pandemic would be enormously helpful in motivating pharmacies for the next phase of the pandemic response.”