Sussex pharmacies ‘could vaccinate more than 6,000 people a day’
Pharmacies in Sussex could vaccinate more than 6,000 people every day, according to the county’s pharmaceutical leaders.
Sussex Newspapers and its sister titles across the UK launched a campaign yesterday (January 11) urging Boris Johnson to turn pharmacies into vaccine centres to ensure no-one is more than a short walk away from vaccination.
Community Pharmacy Surrey and Sussex, the organisation that represents all 319 of Sussex’s local pharmacies, has backed the campaign and said pharmacies are ‘desperate to help’.
Hinal Patel, a spokesman for the group, said pharmacies could deliver 6,380 vaccines a day if mobilised.
“Community pharmacies have a strong track-record in vaccinations – they have delivered more than 2million flu vaccinations this season, despite being incredibly busy, and have extensive experience of operating in a Covid-safe way,” said Ms Patel.
“We know patients are used to having vaccinations in community pharmacies and they like doing so.
“There are 319 community pharmacies in Sussex (West Sussex: 158, East Sussex (including Brighton and Hove): 161) and 207 in Surrey, making them a very accessible healthcare setting, and convenient for patients.
“A pharmacy setting not only removes the likelihood of patients having to travel far from home, and is therefore far safer, but is also a place of trust, able to provide reassurance to those who will be concerned about finding and stepping into a new and unfamiliar setting.
“Community pharmacies are desperate to help now, and can provide help at scale – not just through a few larger sites.
“Across Surrey and Sussex we estimate pharmacy teams are collectively capable of delivering over 75,000 vaccinations every week.
“Our community pharmacists wholeheartedly support the roll-out of the Covid vaccine using pharmacy premises.
“Together we call on the Government to use the expertise of all of our pharmacy teams who are standing by, ready to help, not just the largest.”
Ms Patel said if Sussex’s pharmacies vaccinated 20 people per day for every day they are open, that would lead to 6,380 vaccinations a day.
That could see more than 200,000 people vaccinated in Sussex by February 15, on top of the huge number already getting their doses in hospitals, GP surgeries and vaccination centres across the county.
Boris Johnson has set a target for all 13.9million of the UK’s most high risk residents to have been vaccinated by that date.
On Monday afternoon, the Government announced community pharmacies could play a part in vaccination delivery from mid-January, with appointments offered through the National Booking Service.
Local pharmacy leaders said the sector needed to play a ‘far bigger role’ and proposals were already being drawn up for a wider roll-out.
“We were pleased to hear ministers as well as Boris Johnson confirming that there will be a role for the sector to play,” they said.
“Our sector’s ambition is for many thousands of pharmacies to be used to deliver the AstraZeneca vaccine, which is logistically more suited to community settings.
“We hope to be able to start planning for this across Surrey and Sussex very soon, to make the necessary preparations and be ready to get going as soon as there is enough vaccine supply to enable smaller community vaccination sites like pharmacies to be stood up.”