The government has laid the details out what it describes as the “largest vaccination programme in British history” as it attempts to get on top of the Covid-19 pandemic.
As part of the unprecedented vaccination drive, which is designed to offer vaccines to tens of millions of people by the spring, some 1,200 local sites including primary care networks and “large and small community pharmacy sites” will play an important role.
Medical director professor Stephen Powis, told a Downing Street briefing yesterday (Monday January 11) that community pharmacies will "come on stream later this week" and the health secretary Matt Hancock said they were "important partners in this," adding there was "much more to come" from the sector.
The PSNC told Independent Community Pharmacy it was "pleased to see that the government has recognised the value of the community pharmacy network to improve the accessibility of the Covid-19 vaccination programme".
"It would seem that PSNC’s work with the media and meetings with ministers last week had an impact. We look forward to working with DHSC and NHSE&I on the detail behind the Government's plan," the negotiator said.
PSNC chief executive Simon Dukes said yesterday that he wanted “many thousands” of community pharmacies to deliver the AstraZeneca vaccine, which, unlike the Pfizer vaccine, does not need to be stored at extremely low temperatures.
Over 200 hospital sites and 50 vaccination centres are also being set up as the government embarks on an ambitious target of carrying out at least two million vaccines a week across 2,700 vaccination sites in the UK.
NHS England chief executive Simon Stevens said the vaccination programme will be “a sprint until mid-February,” with the government promising that everyone in England will be within 10 miles of a vaccination site by the end of the month. It is also striving to deliver two million vaccines each week by the end of January.
People in rural areas will be reached through mobile vaccination teams and the plan cements ministers' pledge to offer the first doses of the vaccine to everyone in the top four priority groups by February 15.
The DHSC said the government and the NHS had “mobilised a workforce of over 80,000 health professionals to help in the delivery of the programme across the different vaccination sites.”
“It’s taken a tremendous amount of hard work and dedication to make such an incredible start to this ambitious deployment programme. Our vaccine deployment plan sets out exactly how we will harness these efforts to expand the programme quickly and safely,” said heath secetary Matt Hancock.
“Our UK Covid-19 vaccines delivery plan maps our route back to normality, but it does not mean we can be complacent and it is mission critical that everybody abides by the restrictions in the coming weeks.
“The next few months will present a significant opportunity to turn the tide of battle against Covid – I am looking forward to watching these plans bring more reassurance and hope back to people’s lives after a difficult year.”