NHS England has drafted plans to enable community pharmacies to run temporary Covid-19 vaccination clinics in community centres and places of worship to ensure communities with lower uptake levels will receive the vaccine.

This decision comes as part of two letters sent to community pharmacies and hopes to address issues with vaccine hesitancy and inequalities in different socioeconomic groups.

The letter highlighted a correlation between socio-economic circumstances and lower levels of vaccine uptake.

The first place of worship to vaccinate people, Al-Abbas Islamic Centre in Birmingham, was considered a success with people who may have been hesitant to book appointments to have the vaccine.

Capacity will play a huge part in guiding which venues will be a part of vaccination rollouts, with it being likely that only one provider could use one space at a time.

Pharmacies that are part of the programme are expected to set up a system to transport their vaccine supplies to the community venue and be prepared to set up a clinic to prepare second doses.

Vaccination against Covid-19 is a challenge not only for global pharmaceuticals and medicine manufacturers but also for health care systems in different countries.

They need to balance the needs of clinically vulnerable groups with supply and the storage requirements for the different approved vaccines.

Vaccine Programmes

Currently, the NHS has a prioritisation programme based on need and age, with older patients and those who are considered to at high risk if they contract the virus receiving the vaccination first.

People who are currently prioritised and are set to receive the vaccine include:

  • People over 60 years old,
  • People who have been classed as clinically extremely vulnerable (such as people with immunodeficiencies, have received an organ transplant or are undertaking cancer treatment),
  • Clinically vulnerable people,
  • People who work or live in residential care homes,
  • Health and social care workers
  • People who receive a Carer’s Allowance.

As these groups are at a higher risk of either severe complications from Covid-19 or could potentially spread it to people who are at a higher risk, it is of utmost importance that nobody is left behind, particularly if they are in an at-risk group.

Three major vaccines are available, produced by Pfizer/BioNTech, Moderna, and Oxford/AstraZeneca. All three of them differ slightly but have proven to be effective when administered as a two-dose course of treatment.

After the first dose of either the Oxford/AstraZeneca or Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine is administered, a patient’s risk of being hospitalised as a result of Covid-19 symptoms is reduced by over 80 per cent, according to a recent government study.

Another study suggested that a single dose reduced the risk of catching Covid, whether with symptoms or not by 70 per cent or more.

The second dose, which can be administered from 21 days after the initial dose, reduces the risk of infection and symptoms, although the rollout of the vaccination has prioritised ensuring that more people have a single dose rather than the complete two-dose course.