Local pharmacies could play key 'trust' role with covid vaccines says Matt Hancock

Community pharmacies could have an important role in persuading those otherwise reluctant to have the coronavirus vaccine to trust the jab, the Health Secretary has suggested.

Monday, 11th January 2021, 7:45 pm

Matt Hancock said more than the 200 initial community pharmacies signed up as part of the Government’s mass vaccine drive would be utilised.

It comes after we called for trusted pharmacists to be on the frontline of administering the vaccine as part of our ‘A Shot In The Arm’ campaign.

But he said this would be more useful in the second phase of the roll out, where the idea was to vaccinate as many people as possible, once the vulnerable had been protected

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Our 'A Shot In The Arm' campaign urges the PM to use local pharmacies as covid vaccination centres.

Speaking at a Downing Street briefing Mr Hancock said: “I'm sure that there's more that community pharmacy can do, I'm a huge fan of the role that community pharmacy plays, especially so close to the community so often it is the bit of the NHS that is most embedded in the local community.”

He said: “Now, that means that especially when we're coming to make sure that as many people as possible get the vaccine.

“At the moment we've started with the big numbers but we're going to have to get the vaccine out to people either who find it difficult to travel, or who are less certain that they want the vaccine, and persuade people to take the vaccine.

“And I think that community pharmacy will have a particularly important role in that stage of the campaign.”

Mr Hancock said he was “confident” that the first four priority groups would receive their coronavirus vaccine by the middle of next month.

The Health Secretary said: “We are on track to meet that target – it’s not going to be easy, but we are going to get there.”

While National Medical Director for England Professor Stephen Powis said he too was confident that the target would be met.

Mr Hancock said: “The vaccine rollout is now proceeding at pace, and we all know that this is the way out of the pandemic. I'm determined as I have been for almost a year now to drive this vaccination programme, as fast as is safely possible.

“I'm determined to ensure every adult in this country has the chance to be vaccinated. And that as many people as possible take up that chance to be vaccinated, and vaccines are important.

“I care about vaccines, because I want our country to get back to normal as fast as possible. I want us to have that great British summer.”

New figures show the number of people in the UK to have been given a first dose of a Covid-19 vaccine is nearly 2.3m.

Professor Powis, told the briefing that vaccination would gradually lead to a drop in people in hospital.

“But we are not going to see it now,” he said. “We are not going to see it next week or the week after.

“It won’t be until we get to February that we are going to see the early signs of that.

“The vaccination programme gives hope but to battle the virus today, we have to comply with the guidelines today.”

Meanwhile, Labour has called for vaccination centres to be open 24/7.

Earlier, Boris Johnson warned that tougher lockdown measures may be needed as he stressed “now is the moment for maximum vigilance”.

It comes amid increasing calls for tougher lockdown restrictions – including from Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer – as case rates soar in several parts of the country.

During a visit to a vaccine centre in Ashton Gate Stadium, Bristol, the Prime Minister said: “We’re going to keep the rules under constant review.

“Where we have to tighten them, we will.

“We have rules in place already which, if they are properly followed, we believe can make a huge, huge difference.

“It’s now that people need to focus… when they’re out shopping, whether they’re buying cups of coffee in the park or whatever it happens to be, they need to think about spreading the disease.”

Mr Johnson said that “more important than us just pushing out new rules”, people should follow existing guidance.

“In supermarkets, people need to be keeping their distance, making sure that they’re wearing masks, doing the right thing.

“We need to enforce the rules in supermarkets. When people are getting takeaway drinks, in cafes, then they need to avoid spreading the disease there, avoid mingling too much.

“Now is the moment for maximum vigilance, maximum observance of the rules.

“Of course, if we feel that things are not being properly observed then we may have to do more.”