Almost 350 community pharmacies are taking part in Northern Ireland’s Covid-19 vaccination programme, health minister Robin Swann announced yesterday (March 29).
Speaking yesterday at the launch of the pharmacy immunisation service at Timoney Pharmacy in Lambeg, Mr Swann said it was “a significant day in our vaccination journey”.
At around two-thirds of Northern Ireland’s roughly 530 pharmacies, this is a much higher proportion of pharmacies than in England, where well under a thousand have been given the green light to start vaccinating patients.
Vaccines are currently being rolled out to people aged 50 and over, with Department of Health asking the public to “remain patient” as demand for the community pharmacy service is expected to be high. The Covid-19 NI vaccination website has information on how to book a jab at a local pharmacy.
Mr Swann added: “Community pharmacy teams have remained dedicated to providing the public with vital healthcare and support through what have been very challenging times. Pharmacists have a wealth of expertise, skills and experience which makes them very well placed for delivering the Covid-19 vaccine.
“The addition of this new service will help speed up the roll-out of the existing programme by increasing capacity and local accessibility to vaccines for the general population, particularly for those who may find it more difficult to travel to one of the mass vaccination centres.”
After receiving her vaccine at Timoney Pharmacy, chief pharmaceutical officer Cathy Harrison said: “Community pharmacies have played a vital role throughout the pandemic and will continue to do so as they join the vaccination roll-out programme.
“Over the course of the past year, the general public has come to rely on community pharmacists more than ever before due to their accessibility and the addition of this new service will greatly benefit the people of Northern Ireland.”
Community Pharmacy Northern Ireland chief executive Gerard Greene said: “The advantage in being able to receive the vaccine at participating local community pharmacies is their accessibility so people can get the vaccine at a location more convenient to them.
“As clinically trained vaccinators, community pharmacists are looking forward to begin vaccinating their communities and contribute even further to the wider Covid-19 response.”