Community pharmacy teams will be included among frontline health workers vaccinated against COVID-19

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Government preparing NHS to deliver COVID-19 vaccines from December 2020

Community pharmacy teams will be vaccinated against COVID-19 alongside all other health and social care professionals as part of the government’s vaccination programme.

In a reportthe Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee (PSNC) said NHS England and Improvement had confirmed to the negotiator that pharmacy staff would be included in this cohort, which is second on the priority list for government-recommended vaccinations by the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunization (JCVI).

In September 2020, the JCVI released a provisional priority list of patient groupsindicating who would receive the vaccine first.

Health and social care workers are listed alongside patients aged 80 and over, after “elderly people residing in nursing homes and nursing home workers”.

However, the JCVI notes that a “final decision on the prioritization of health and social service workers will depend on the characteristics of the vaccine and the epidemiology at the start of any program.”

The confirmation comes as the government begins to prepare the NHS to deliver COVID-19 vaccines from December, following the announcement that the vaccine tested by Pfizer and BioNTech has proven to be more than 90% effective.

In a letter to general practitioners on November 9, 2020NHS England has advised Primary Care Networks (PCNs) to designate at least one site where a minimum of 975 vaccinations can take place each week.

The letter said the practices “should supply the majority of the required staff from their own workforce”, but added that “NCP partners in…community pharmacy may be able to support delivery”.

Documents released alongside the letter also say the practices will be required to set out relevant financial arrangements “relating to other healthcare providers (such as community pharmacies) outside of its PCN grouping involved in local delivery.” of the vaccine, as part of a mandatory ‘Covid-19 Collaborative Agreement on Enhanced Immunization Services’.

The PSNC said it was in talks with the government about involving community pharmacy in the vaccination programme, but warned that “the program will work very differently from the flu vaccination”.

Sandra Gidley, president of the Royal Pharmaceutical Society, said she was also meeting the government “this week to discuss…how pharmacists can be integrated into vaccination programs in the future”.

“Pharmacy has a proven track record in delivering immunization programs throughout the health system and must be involved in the provision of COVID-19 vaccines to enable the widest possible access to patients.

“We recognize the impact this could have on teams already stretched to capacity, but through collaboration with primary care colleagues, we can help ensure an agile and flexible approach to delivering vaccines across the country. .”

Gidley added that it was “vital” that pharmacy staff were part of the first wave of people vaccinated against COVID-19 “to ensure the well-being of the workforce”.

Speaking at a press conference on November 11, 2020, Jonathan Van-Tam, Deputy Chief Medical Officer for England, said the vaccination program presented “a gigantic challenge”.

“The models we will need to deliver this high-volume, high-impact vaccination program will need to be innovative,” he said.

“So there will be some form of mass vaccination approach; there will be some form of pop-up mobile vaccination centres; there will be the standard delivery methods that we see working successfully every year for the flu.

He added that further details on the delivery schedule for the COVID-19 vaccine would be defined next week.

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