JPIMedia publications across England are calling on the Government to let all pharmacies play a part in the UK’s Covid-19 vaccination programme.
The ‘Shot in the Arm’ campaign was born after thousands of readers and members of the public all over the UK expressed concern about the way vaccines are currently being rolled out. Many have noticed elderly people being asked to queue up outdoors in order to receive a vaccine.
As part of the campaign, a petition has been launched, calling on Boris Johnson to ensure that every person in the UK has the ability to get a jab without travelling further than 10 minutes from home, by bringing in the large network of local pharmacies into the vaccination programme.
After launching today (13 Jan), the petition is already fast approaching its first milestone, with support from titles and readers all over the country, including the Yorkshire Post, Sheffield Star, Portsmouth News, Sunderland Echo and Lancashire Post.
How to sign the petition
You can sign the petition online here, and by sharing it on social media you can help reach more people and convince the Government to heed the call to let all pharmacies deliver the jab.
As well as signing the petition, you can also write to your local MP, asking them to support the campaign and raise the issue in Parliament.
Why local pharmacies?
Allowing local pharmacies to do their bit in helping to administer the Covid-19 vaccine will increase the pace at which a full rollout can be achieved, and make it much easier for people to access the vaccine in their community.
There are around 11,000 local pharmacies in the UK which currently aren’t part of plans to distribute the vaccine, despite the largest 200 pharmacies being approved as part of the programme earlier this week.
With local pharmacies already playing such a trusted and crucial part in community-based healthcare, allowing them to help with the vaccination rollout will help increase take-up and make it easier for members of the public to access their jabs - particularly for the most vulnerable.
Pharmacy staff are qualified to deliver vaccinations and have experience administering similar programmes like the winter flu jab.
Royal Pharmaceutical Society president Sandra Gidley said: “There are over 11,000 pharmacies. If each of those does 20-a-day that is 1.3 million-a-week extra vaccines that can be provided, very often to those who are hardest to reach.
She added: “Why would any government not want to do that?”
The majority of pharmacies are already equipped with the staff and facilities to join the vaccination programme, and the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine is particularly well-suited to pharmacies, as it doesn’t require low-temperature storage and involves one initial dose, with the second coming up to 12 weeks later.
Where pharmacies don’t currently have the capacity to be involved with the rollout, the Government can and should intervene and provide support to ensure they do.
‘Use the power of your voices’
Yorkshire Evening Post Editor, Laura Collins, who is at the forefront of the Shot in the Arm campaign said: “We've had thousands of people still tell us this week about their concerns over the roll out vaccines. What is clear is there are still so many unanswered questions.
“While the Government has said most people are within 10 miles of a vaccine centre, put frankly, this doesn't go far enough. Many of you have told us your concerns about how elderly and infirm relatives would struggle to attend their appointments if they have to travel.
“Everyone should have access to a jab within 10 minutes of their homes and our community pharmacies have told us that those who can are ready, willing and able to help quickly roll out the jabs.
“That is why today we want to use the power of your voices to the Government and we need your support to let our experts have a shot at playing their part.”