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COVID-19 vaccinations will be provided in 'local pharmacies', Welsh health minister says

Vaughan Gething, the Welsh health minister, said that providing COVID-19 vaccinations in local GP surgeries and pharmacies will substantially increase the ability to reach priority groups.

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Vaccine being administered

Source: Science Photo Library

The Welsh health minister said the approval of the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine meant that health boards would have the “flexibility to make decisions on increasing use of the primary care sector” in the vaccination programme

People in Wales will be able to receive a COVID-19 vaccination from their “local GP practice or pharmacy”, Vaughan Gething, the Welsh health minister, has said.

In a statement published on 4 January 2021, Gething said the approval of the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine meant that health boards would have the “flexibility to make decisions on increasing use of the primary care sector” in the vaccination programme.

“The fact that, going forward, many individuals will be able to receive their vaccination from a local GP practice or pharmacy substantially increases our ability to reach those priority groups,” he added.

Community pharmacy contractors in Wales were invited to express interest in providing the Oxford/AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccination to patients under a new government immunisation service, which came into force on 18 December 2020.

The Primary Care COVID-19 Immunisation Service (PCCIS) will allow pharmacists to enter into a contract with their local health board to deliver the latest COVID-19 vaccination to patients.

It was announced on 30 December 2020 that the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency had authorised Oxford University/AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine for use.

Similar to the vaccine manufactured by Pfizer/BioNTech, contractors in Wales will be paid £12.58 per dose of the vaccine administered to a patient under the scheme. The Welsh government has said it will pay an additional £400 for every 1,000 vaccines administered.

Pharmacies providing the PCCIS are “strongly encouraged to work collectively within cluster groupings … to increase the vaccine administration rates”, the service specification says, with GPs, dentists and opticians also able to deliver vaccines through the scheme.

It added that delivering the service for some providers “could mean administering vaccines at venues away from their normal working location”.

Judy Thomas, director of contractor services at Community Pharmacy Wales, said the PCCIS “is a national contracting mechanism that health boards can now use in order to engage providers to deliver COVID-19 vaccination from within primary care”.

“Community Pharmacy Wales is positive about the vaccination programme and we believe community pharmacists will become involved in significant numbers to play our full part in meeting the major public health challenge of 2021,” she said.

A letter from Gregor Smith, chief medical officer for Scotland, sent on 1 January 2021, which updated NHS staff on the COVID-19 vaccination programme in Scotland, says a “key objective” is to expand the vaccination service “moving out into more community settings” from 11 January 2021. The letter adds that this does not preclude providing vaccinations in community settings before 11 January 2021.

Community pharmacy-led vaccination sites in England are expected to start administering vaccines from the week of 11 January 2021.

Citation: The Pharmaceutical Journal DOI: 10.1211/PJ.2021.20208705

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