Involve more pharmacies in booster programme says CPNI
Data revealing community pharmacies in Northern Ireland have delivered more than 100,000 Covid vaccines since the end of March has prompted pharmacy’s representative body to urge the government to make more use of the profession during the booster programme this autumn.
Community Pharmacy Northern Ireland said the Department of Health must expand the vaccination roll-out to community pharmacies across the country to allow them "to become the central vaccinating team within primary care".
"With more vaccine options becoming available in Northern Ireland, local community pharmacies are keen to play a bigger role in the roll-out of the Covid-19 vaccine programme with pharmacies able to vaccinate all age-cohorts," said CPNI.
Giving more pharmacies a role in Covid vaccination, the CPNI said, "will allow for other vaccinators to shift focus to other aspects of healthcare".
CPNI chief executive Gerard Greene said the DoH needed to consider community pharmacies as "the first-choice vaccine provider".
"Bringing community pharmacy into the Covid-19 vaccination programme has hugely enhanced access to the vaccine within local communities throughout Northern Ireland," he said.
"Patients have had the option to receive their vaccine locally at a convenient location and from a health care professional, that they know and trust. The feedback we have been receiving is that patients really welcome the vaccine being available from pharmacies and that is incredible endorsement for the service."
Mr Greene added: "As attention moves to the booster vaccine, pharmacy is ideally placed to play an integral role in the roll-out of the programme to all patient groups. Community pharmacists have displayed real flexibility and clinical skill in the efficient manner of which they have administered the vaccine so far.
"This can be replicated across all age cohorts, and we urge the Department of Health to consider community pharmacy as the first-choice vaccine provider, allowing other health services to focus on healthcare provision for those most unwell and vulnerable."