Pharmacies that have made themselves available to help the Government hit its target of delivering around thirteen million shots of a coronavirus vaccine by mid-February will be used, it has been announced.
Operating from pharmacy buildings themselves, as well as from around 200 special sites being investigated by the Government for potential use, pharmacy staff will be aided by the relative stability of the Oxford-developed AstraZeneca vaccine. As the vaccine can be stored at fridge temperature, rather than the optimal -70C temperature required to store the Pfizer/BioNTech, this makes its distribution to local vaccination centres like pharmacies much more practicable.
Using all avenues available to speed up the distribution of the vaccine appears to be Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s top priority, announcing in a press conference on Thursday that he aims to make a vaccine available within a ten mile radius to everybody. This comes as the UK records consecutive days of coronavirus deaths above one-thousand, with some hospitals reporting that they can no longer provide top-quality critical care due to the mountainous workload they face due to Covid-19.
The British Medical Association’s website offers advice to General Practitioners’ Practices on how to administer the vaccine. This covers both how specifically to run the Practice while the rollout occurs, and how to make sure the highest number of people receive the vaccine with minimal wastage. For example, leftover doses may be given to staff that are thought to be in particularly at risk groups.
Its advice also says, “delivery of the service will depend on matching patient demand and vaccine availability.”. This implies, therefore, that is important not only to utilise medical professionals and facilities such as those at pharmacies to make the vaccine as widely available as possible but also to make the general public aware of this availability. It also emphasises the continued importance of dispelling anti-vaccine myths so as to optimise uptake of the vaccine.
How important a role pharmacies play in the vaccine rollout is uncertain but the fact that the Oxford/ AstraZeneca vaccine can be used in this setting is surely a huge positive in the race between the vaccine and the virus.