Independent pharmacies stand to reap financial benefits by participating in the Covid-19 vaccination programme, a London pharmacist has said.
Speaking in a virtual session at the NPA’s virtual conference yesterday (July 6), Rahul Puri, lead clinical pharmacist at Puri Pharmacy in Southall, said that while there is some "financial strain" involved in setting up a vaccination service, this is "outweighed by the financial gain you get".
Mr Puri said that in setting up its vaccination service Puri Pharmacy had to recruit a dedicated vaccination team – "for the first week we used existing staff… [but] we realised this is not something you can realistically safely [manage]" – and set up an offsite vaccination centre in a nearby carpark, both of which involved significant costs.
"[But] from a financial and business point of view, remuneration for vaccines has been very good… what you are getting for each vaccine is a very decent fee."
Mr Puri said that while he had spoken with contractors who worried about a "never-ending list of set-up costs," the NHS seeks to minimise set-up costs for those providing vaccination services and give pharmacies "pretty much everything you require to complete the service," ranging from ancillary vaccination products such as swabs and alcohol rubs to an iPad.
He added that the change in storage guidance for Pfizer jabs in May whereby the shelf life of vaccine stock was extended from five days to 31 days has "completely transformed the way we provide our service," allowing the pharmacy to vaccinate double the number of patients it was seeing previously and to accept some walk-ins as opposed to having to prebook all vaccination slots.
He encouraged pharmacies with the capacity to provide a Covid-19 vaccination service to register an interest ahead of the booster campaign expected this autumn, describing it as an opportunity to help change the perception of the public regarding pharmacy and to develop skills among the community pharmacy workforce.