Star petition for vaccine roll-out at pharmacies pulls in over 120,000 signatures
A petition by Sheffield Star and its sister newspapers across the country to see pharmacies mobilised in the Covid vaccine roll-out has reached over 120,000 signatures.
The petition - rejected by the Government’s petition service and posted on Change.org - is now well-past the 100,000 signature mark at which campaigns are considered for debate in the House of Commons.
Our Shot In The Arm campaign calls for everyone to have the ability to get a jab within 10 minutes of their home by using our great pharmacy network.
Figures released by the Government on Friday showed 721 people had died of the virus in Sheffield Hospitals since the start of the pandemic - while 1,440 new cases were confirmed in Sheffield during the last seven days up until Saturday.
Six UK pharmacies have now been granted permission to deliver the vaccine however Dr Leyla Hannbeck, CEO of the Association of Independent Multiple Pharmacies, believes the roll-out needs to be extended.
She said: “There are thousands of pharmacies across the country - in every community.
“They’re accessible to patients who otherwise may not go out of their home because they don’t or can’t travel - or even if they’re sceptical about going to places where they don’t know the staff”.
Dr Hannbcek says the Government has thus far been reluctant to roll vaccines out this way for a number of reasons - the first being concerns over wastage.
The Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine, which would be used in pharmacies due to the fact that it can be stored at fridge temperature, is delivered in packs of 10 vials.
Each vial contains eight to ten doses, and once opened, each must be used within six hours or it can no longer be administered.
While Dr Hannbeck admits this is a valid concern she points out that pharmacies have ample experience with delivery of flu vaccines to ensure minimum wastage.
She said: “We’ve demonstrated that we can deliver - in the case of flu vaccines there are all sorts of problems each year, stock problems, shortages.
“We go through all sorts of hoops to get things done - it’s not always easy and challenges exist but we overcome them every year”.
She added that a further barrier to pharmacy roll-out has been a culture which traditionally forgets about the role pharmacists play in delivery of primary care in a community.
She said: “Historically, pharmacies haven’t always been top of the list in terms of health solutions.
“Throughout the pandemic we’ve been delivering services, delivering medicines to vulnerable people, those shielding - but nobody was talking about pharmacies and we tend to be forgotten about, despite all the things we deliver.”
While ‘delighted’ that vaccines are being handed to six pharmacies in England, Dr Hannbeck believes the government will be unable to reach their ambitious target of 13.9m vaccines delivered by mid February if they don’t take advantage of the pharmacy network.
If you agree that pharmacies should be able to play a part in the vaccine roll-out you can find our petition HERE.