Anger over pharmacies refused permission to deliver Covid jabs
Vaccines minister Maggie Throup has said that expressions of interest from pharmacies not originally accepted for the Covid booster programme will be looked at again “if requirements change”.
Further expressions of interest will be invited should further capacity be required, she added.
Almost 25 million people in the UK have now received booster jabs but around 20 million more are eligible to be jabbed by the end of the year, with services struggling to keep up with demand.
The announcement came in Parliament on Monday (December 13) in response to a written question from Liberal Democrats’ health spokesperson Daisy Cooper. Throup said that by the end of September, 4,733 pharmacies had submitted 5,376 expressions of interest to deliver Covid jabs, but only 1,454 had been accepted – an approval rate of less than a third.
Cooper said the delays were “shocking” and urged NHS England to speed up its decision-making to administer as many boosters as possible.
She added: “Community pharmacies can play a critical role in getting boosters into arms in the coming weeks while taking pressure off our GPs and NHS staff. So it is staggering that some pharmacies applied several times to help provide booster jabs only to be rejected, while others have waited a shocking 78 days to be approved. Ministers completely took their eye off the ball.”
PSNC’s Alastair Buxton said ministers had made “a tactical error” and that an urgent rethink is necessary. However, although pharmacies could be ready to deploy quickly, the short notice and busy Christmas period meant this would present a much bigger challenge, he added.
Nick Kaye, NPA vice chair, said it was “scandalous” that so many pharmacies have been turned down. “The NHS should be aiming to commission maximum provision, as this is a moment of national emergency. The queues outside current sites tell their own story. All existing pharmacy applications to become vaccine centres should be reconsidered immediately.”
As of December 3, 1,336 community pharmacy vaccination sites were providing Covid vaccinations.