Only 1-in-3 pharmacies in England wanting to give booster jabs get go-ahead

Fewer than one third of the 4,733 pharmacies that applied to take part in the booster vaccination programme have been accepted, figures uncovered by the Liberal Democrats have revealed.

Some pharmacies are waiting up to eleven weeks to be approved to give out Covid vaccines and booster jabs. If that wait was repeated from today, a pharmacy would not be able to provide vaccinations until March next year.

By the end of September 2021, fewer than one third of the 4,733 pharmacies that applied to take part in the booster vaccination programme had been accepted. Of these, just 1,336 community pharmacy vaccination sites were actively providing the service as of 3 December.

The figures were provided in response to a parliamentary question tabled by Liberal Democrat Health Spokesperson Daisy Cooper MP. They show that on average pharmacies are having to wait more than 6 weeks for applications to be approved by NHS England, with at least one waiting as long as 78 days.
One pharmacy in Daisy Cooper’s constituency of St Albans, which has one of the worst Covid rates in the country, says they applied twice to become a vaccination centre only to be rejected. The first time they were not given a reason and the second time they were told that the government had “enough capacity”.

The Liberal Democrats are calling on the government to get a grip of the crisis and ensure applications submitted by pharmacies that were rejected are urgently reviewed, to help meet the target of boosting up to one million people a day.

Liberal Democrat Health and Social Care Spokesperson Daisy Cooper MP said: “Community pharmacies can play a critical role in getting boosters into arms in the coming weeks, while taking pressure off our GPs and NHS staff.

Daisy Cooper MP

“So it is staggering that some pharmacies applied several times to help provide booster jabs only to be rejected, while others have waited a shocking 78 days to be approved.

“Ministers completely took their eye off the ball on the booster programme which has left millions without vital protection. Sajid Javid must now get a grip of this crisis, ensure NHS England speeds up the application process and deals with these bureaucratic delays.

“Every pharmacy that has applied in the past should be given an opportunity to take part in this critical national effort.”

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