North Yorkshire Community Pharmacies say they are ready to step up amidst the start of the Oxford University/AstraZeneca immunisation programme.
The organisation, which represents all NHS pharmacy contractors in the North Yorkshire and City of York area, says pharmacists are already administering the flu vaccine and have been for years.
It also says 97 per cent of North Yorkshire’s population are within a 10-minute drive of a community pharmacy.
Ian Dean, Chief Executive Officer of Community Pharmacy North Yorkshire, said: “The approval of a second vaccine, and one that has less complex handling characteristics when compared to the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine, is a positive step.
“The roll out of the vaccination programme will not be without its challenges but community pharmacists and their teams are used to overcoming hurdles to provide the best care to their patients, so we believe their skills should be used by the NHS to help administer the tens of thousands of vaccinations that will be needed to help North Yorkshire escape from the grip of the pandemic.”
The first Oxford University/AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccines were administered today.
The Government has secured access to 100 million doses of the vaccine and more than 730 vaccination sites have already been established across the UK.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock said: “This is a pivotal moment in our fight against this awful virus and I hope it provides renewed hope to everybody that the end of this pandemic is in sight.
“Through its vaccine delivery plan the NHS is doing everything it can to vaccinate those most at risk as quickly as possible and we will rapidly accelerate our vaccination programme.
“While the most vulnerable are immunised, I urge everybody to continue following the restrictions so we can keep cases down and protect our loved ones.”
The first Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccinations were delivered at hospitals at the beginning of the week before the bulk of supplies will be sent to GP-led services and care homes.
More than a million people in the UK have already been vaccinated with the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine and its roll out is continuing.
The Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine can be stored at fridge temperatures, between two to eight degrees, making it easier to distribute to care homes and other locations across the UK.
GPs and local vaccination services have been asked to ensure every care home resident in their local area is vaccinated by the end of January.
The gap between the first and second dose of vaccines has been delayed in a bid to protect the greatest number of people in the shortest amount of time.
Care home residents and staff, people over 80 and health and care workers are first in line to be immunised, followed by the population in order of age and risk.