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The community pharmacy network in Northern Ireland has administered over 100,000 Covid-19 vaccines since taking up the vaccine programme in late March.

As focus now turns to the booster programme, Community Pharmacy NI are calling on the Department of Health to expand the provision of the Covid-19 vaccination programme in local pharmacies when the booster vaccine is rolled-out in the autumn.

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. This will allow for other vaccinators to shift focus to other aspects of healthcare, and for community pharmacists to become the central vaccinating team within primary care.

Chief Executive of Community Pharmacy NI, Gerard Greene said:

“Bringing community pharmacy into the Covid-19 vaccination programme has hugely enhanced access to the vaccine within local communities throughout Northern Ireland. 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. I would like the thank our community pharmacy teams for the rapid and professional manner in which the service has been rolled out, whilst running alongside the delivery of existing community pharmacy services.

“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.

Community Pharmacist, David McCrea, said:

“It has been great to be able to vaccinate our own patients and the familiar faces that we see every day, helping to protect both them and their families against Covid-19. Since the roll-out began, patients have commented on how easy it is to get the vaccine at their local pharmacy. Looking towards the autumn, we want to play a bigger role in the vaccine booster programme and from the initial success of our vaccination programme, it is clear our teams are agile, capable and professional in providing the vaccine to our communities. It only makes sense for this programme to be expanded to all ages when the range and supply of vaccines is greater and for the winter flu vaccine to also be provided through community pharmacies.

“We are also pleased to be able to offer the vaccine as it means we are able to support our patients who we know well, addressing any concerns they have and delivering a booster service ensures we can continue to provide this important level of care.”

To find your closest vaccinating community pharmacy: https://covid-19.hscni.net/community-pharmacy-covid-19-vaccination-service/

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