Sussex pharmacies not included in first coronavirus vaccine rollout

Pharmacies across the country have started delivering the Covid-19 vaccine since this newspaper launched its A Shot in the Arm campaign, but there is much work to be done to ensure no-one is more than a ten-minute walk from a vaccination centre.

Last week, this newspaper joined its sister titles across the country in urging Boris Johnson to allow local pharmacies to administer the vaccine, to make sure every corner of our communities has easy access to a jab.

We spoke to local, community pharmacists who all said they were raring to go and delivery of the Covid vaccine would be no different from the annual flu shots.

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On Thursday, NHS England announced 200 high street pharmacies would start receiving the vaccine before the end of the month, as more supplies of the Oxford-AstraZeneca jabs become available.

Photo: Getty Images

Larger centres are being prioritised in order to deliver high volumes with safe social distancing.

None of the first group of pharmacies announced are in Sussex and, with over 11,000 community pharmacies in the UK, 200 is but a drop in the ocean.

That is why our A Shot in the Arm campaign continues, backed by health leaders across the country, including Community Pharmacy Surrey and Sussex (CPSS) – the organisation that represents all of Sussex’s 319 local pharmacies.

A spokesman for CPSS, Hinal Patel, said it was ‘fantastic’ to see the first pharmacy sites going live, in a sign that the Government recognised they had a role to play.

“However, the number of premises nationwide is still very small, with none currently in Sussex, and we urge the Government to consider giving community pharmacy a larger role still in the programme’s roll out,” she said.

“The strict qualifying criteria means that some premises across the county will be unsuitable for use. A relaxation of the rules however, for example reducing the minimum number of doses from 1,000 per week, would allow many more premises to take part.

“We know that many of our patients, particularly the elderly, would value the convenience and accessibility of local vaccination centres, and our experience in administering and delivering the flu jab year on year, makes clear our capability to be able to deliver at scale.

“We believe our network of community pharmacies across Sussex could make a significant difference to the vaccination efforts in the county and we will continue to press further to contribute to this critical programme of vaccination, and help save lives.”

Last week, the CPSS said if Sussex’s pharmacies vaccinated 20 people every day they were open, they could deliver 6,380 doses a day.