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CCA publishes recommendations for pharmacies’ Covid vaccine role

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CCA publishes recommendations for pharmacies’ Covid vaccine role

By Neil Trainis

The Company Chemists’ Association has today made four recommendations it believes will allow more community pharmacies in England to provide Covid vaccines and make it easier for patients to receive one.

In a report that details community pharmacy’s increasing role in Covid vaccination programmes, the CCA said pharmacies have provided nearly a quarter of all jabs in the country, a third of which were administered in England’s 20 per cent most deprived communities.

The report also said community pharmacies have provided more than two million Covid vaccines in England this year alone, almost half of all the vaccinations delivered so far in 2023.

The CCA’s recommendations for improving patient access to Covid vaccinations include integrating the national booking system, which is the main route for patients to get a jab, with existing pharmacy IT systems, removing bureaucracy from pharmacy’s checking processes and standardising it across all areas of the country and improving the supply of Covid vaccines by moving it “to existing logistical routes” and allowing pharmacies to order vaccines and manage stock “in the same way as all other medicines supplied for the NHS.”

The CCA also called for pharmacies to be better funded to provide Covid vaccines after NHS England said pharmacy owners’ fee for administering each vaccine would drop by 25 per cent to £7.54 during the autumn 2023-24 booster programme.

“The reason offered was that the vaccines can be administered at the same time as flu vaccines. However, we know that patients do not always want to receive both vaccines at the same time,” the CCA said.

“Given that co-administration is not always possible it is important there is sufficient resource to provide the necessary high-quality care for patients. The high levels of inflation mean that it costs more than ever to vaccinate patients, not less.”

The CCA chief executive Malcolm Harrison said community pharmacy “is the anchor of the Covid vaccination programme” but warned the sector’s “true benefits will not be realised without change.”

“This year alone, community pharmacy has provided nearly half of all Covid vaccines and stands ready to help turbo-charge the rollout during this winter period. Unfortunately, core funding remains a major issue,” he said.

“Moreover, pharmacies nationwide face a postcode lottery of bureaucracy which is stifling their involvement in the vaccination programme. Although, we experienced a lot of toing and froing concerning this year’s vaccination programmes, which consequently placed the sector in a precarious state, our members will continue to strive and deliver for patients and the public.”

Harrison said it was “now in the hands of the NHS to address the remaining barriers” and allow more community pharmacies to provide Covid vaccines.

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