NHS England & improvement has confirmed that “selected” community pharmacies will be invited to take part in England’s Covid-19 vaccination programme.
Publishing guidance for community pharmacy contractors on the vaccination programme, NHSE&I said pharmacies would be able to help in a number of ways, including supporting local workforce arrangements and working with their local primary care network “to support them to deliver maximum vaccine uptake via the GP enhanced service or with vaccination centres”.
In addition, a “limited number” of pharmacies will be commissioned to provide the vaccination service from “pharmacy-led designated sites”.
To be considered as a potential designated site, pharmacies must meet a strict set of criteria, including having enough fridge space to store 1,000 vaccine doses at any time at 2 to 8 degrees Celsius, being able to deliver vaccinations from 8am to 8pm seven days a week – including potentially on bank holidays – while continuing to offer pharmaceutical services as normal, and ensuring any non-registered staff who administer vaccines receive appropriate training (online training will be available).
“Pharmacy contractors will need to deliver a minimum of 1,000 doses of vaccine over a seven-day period from each designate site, ensuring all those vaccinations are administered within the appropriate shelf life,” says the NHSE&I guidance.
NHSE&I says it does not expect most contractors’ sites will meet these requirements, and that the majority of pharmacies should “continue their very important role in flu vaccination”.
Planning is going ahead on the assumption that two doses of Covid-19 vaccinations will need to be administered to each patient three to five weeks apart, but this could depend on which vaccines are used and is subject to confirmation by the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI).
Contractors will receive an item of service fee of £12.58 per vaccine dose, and will be paid on completion of the final dose where two doses are required.
Pharmacies that wish to be considered as a potential designated site must register their interest with NHSE&I by 4pm on Sunday December 6, with decisions to be announced on Friday December 18. A final enhanced service agreement will be published “as soon as possible” once a vaccine becomes available, and the vaccination programme is expected to begin in late December or early January.