Pharmacies on frontline as ‘32m vaccine booster shots begin next month’

·2-min read

Up to 32 million people in the UK are to start receiving Covid booster jabs at pharmacies from next month, it has been reported.

Some 2,000 pharmacies are to be at the forefront of plans drawn up by ministers to deliver an average of almost 2.5 million third doses a week, The Telegraph reports.

The booster jab is being rolled out amid fears the efficacy of vaccines could begin to decline.

Pharmacies will provide the third vaccine to ensure GPs and other NHS staff are able to focus on the growing backlog of patients awaiting other treatments, it has been reported.

All adults aged 50 and over, as well as the immuno-suppressed, will be offered the additional jabs, with the campaign possibly starting as soon as September 6.

The rollout could be completed by early December, ensuring those receiving it had at least a fortnight for it to take effect before Christmas.

Proposals have been drawn up for the booster jab to be co-administered alongside the flu jab, with one injection in each arm.

“That is the plan, wherever possible,” a government source told The Telegraph, but stressed it “depends on final JCVI [Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation] advice and coronavirus vaccine booster trials”.

The source added that ministers were “looking to beat our record of jabs per day”.

The highest tally of doses given in a single day was 873,784 on March 20, the equivalent to vaccinating the adult populations of Liverpool, Southampton and Oxford combined, NHS England said.

Ministers are also considering giving people a different booster jab to the vaccine they received for their first and second dose.

It comes as early trials suggest that mixing shots could provoke an increased immune response, which could lead to a significant reduction in the use of AstraZeneca jabs.

There are understood to be seven jabs being tested, with mRNA vaccines Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna and subunit protein vaccine Novavax returning positive results in preliminary data.

An NHS spokesman said: “Community pharmacies have been an important part of the NHS Covid vaccination programme, the biggest and most successful in the health service’s history, and they will continue to play a vital role as we move into the next phase this autumn.”

A Department of Health and Social Care spokesman said the booster programme would be “informed by the JCVI’s final advice”, with details of the rollout confirmed “in due course”.

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