Banbury area pharmacies want to become vaccination centres as part of national campaign

Pharmacies with branches in and around Banbury want to be part of national campaign to allow them to become Covid-19 vaccination centres
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The Banbury Guardian has joined its sister titles across the UK to challenge Boris Johnson to ensure that every citizen is only a short walk away from a vaccine centre. The Banbury Guardian urges him to deploy the country’s network of 11,000 pharmacies as front-line Covid vaccine centres as part of that.

Despite increasing warm words from Government in the past few days that they will expand the use of the very limited number of the 200 largest pharmacies it is essential that every single one is given a cast-iron assurance that they will be allowed to play their part.

Local pharmacies are highly trusted by their communities - and are convenient to access. Where they do not all have the staff and facilities to provide the jab, the government should urgently provide this support.

Pharmacies can become part of the Covid vaccination network.Pharmacies can become part of the Covid vaccination network.
Pharmacies can become part of the Covid vaccination network.

Stuart Gale, managing director at Frosts Pharmacy Ltd. and Oxford Online Pharmacy, with a location based in the Hardwick Estate, Banbury, said: "Covid vaccines absolutely should be administered through community pharmacies.

"We have the premises, skilled qualified staff, trust and are local. Over 11,000 community pharmacies could easily do 200 per week = 2.2m per week! How could there be a better 'over ready' solution to use Boris’ expression."

Frosts Pharmacy is part of the Frosts Pharmacy group, a family run business started in 1925 by John Frost and now run by his grandson Stuart Gale. Frosts Pharmacy provides NHS services and a number of free services including free prescription collection and delivery and a repeat prescription service.

Mr Gale, who also serves as the chief pharmacist, added: "Pharmacy staff have worked throughout the pandemic on the front line often with no protection in the early stages.

Stuart Gale, managing director at Frosts Pharmacy Ltd., which has a branch based in the Hardwick Estate, Banbury. (photo from Frosts Pharmacy Ltd. and Oxford Online Pharmacy website)Stuart Gale, managing director at Frosts Pharmacy Ltd., which has a branch based in the Hardwick Estate, Banbury. (photo from Frosts Pharmacy Ltd. and Oxford Online Pharmacy website)
Stuart Gale, managing director at Frosts Pharmacy Ltd., which has a branch based in the Hardwick Estate, Banbury. (photo from Frosts Pharmacy Ltd. and Oxford Online Pharmacy website)

"They have all shown themselves to be resilient and able to adapt to an extremely challenging situation. At no time have there been headlines like 'Pharmacies can’t cope because they have met the unprecedented challenge of Covid-19.'

"Pharmacists have extensive experience of flu and travel vaccinations over the past few years. Where better to include in the Covid vaccine provision.

"The bar for entry was 1000 per week, which very few pharmacies could do and still provide their essential services. However, there are thousands of community pharmacies all across the country able and willing to lend a hand."

Thousands of readers have expressed concern over vaccine arrangements – from the information they are being given about their own jab to the distance they will have to travel to receive it.

There are also worries about the time it will take to build makeshift centres.

A spokesman for Lloyds Pharmacy, which has a branch inside the Oxford Road Sainsbury's supermarket, said: "Lloyds Pharmacy has participated in the tender process to help the NHS deliver the COVID-19 vaccine roll out programme, offering the support of our pharmacies.

"We would be delighted to be involved and look forward to confirming how we can support. With the MHRA approval of the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine, we believe there is now a bigger role for community pharmacy to play in helping the government to meet its vaccination targets.

"Lloyds Pharmacy will continue to work with the NHS and sector organisations to understand how we can assist in the critical roll out of this vaccine.

"We are still liaising with the NHS to confirm which Lloyds Pharmacy stores will be involved, so unfortunately we cannot confirm that as yet."

Dudley Taylor Pharmacies Ltd., which has pharmacies near Banbury in Brackley and Kineton, said: "As a group of Community Pharmacies, we would be happy to be involved with the COVID Vaccination Program from our pharmacies, wherever possible.

"The PSNC is currently in discussions with the government to agree how pharmacies can be involved, and we await their update, as this will be a national approach."