Research finds pharmacies can play a ‘key clinical role’ in C-19 vacs
- Community pharmacy role in future COVID-19 vaccine programmes could be key to success – study finds.
- Local pharmacies uniquely placed and seen as trustworthy and accessible by the community.
- Community pharmacists can work with ‘hard to reach’ communities on concerns around vaccine safety.
New research published in BMJ Open shows that community pharmacy could play a ‘key clinical role’ in any future COVID-19 vaccination programmes, according to a study led by Aston University in collaboration with UK and international researchers.
The team found that community pharmacists, as a ‘skilled clinical workforce’, could positively contribute, supporting the community in which they serve – by playing a critical role in ongoing COVID-19 vaccination campaigns.
The researchers working on the PERISCOPE study found that community pharmacy is uniquely placed to support individuals, because it is seen by the public as a credible, trustworthy service, which could be key to any future clinical role it might play, especially where addressing vaccine hesitancy in ‘hard to reach’ communities. They are therefore calling on decision-makers to endorse and provide their support for a clearly defined public health role for community pharmacy.
The study included partners from the Universities of Sheffield, Oxford, Hull and Bradford in the UK, as well as internationally, the University of British Columbia and University of Tasmania. The group reviewed more than a hundred documents including peer reviewed articles, blogs and websites on the role of community pharmacy during COVID-19 and other previous pandemics.
Their findings were discussed with more than 30 health professionals and members of the public, to ensure that the findings made sense in the real world. Health professionals included pharmacists, pharmacy technicians, dispensers, counter assistants, and GPs, together with members of the public from a range of diverse ethnic backgrounds.
Several recommendations were made by the researchers from the findings of the study. Most significantly the group found it was imperative that policy and practice should focus on the clinical role of community pharmacy.
Commenting on the research, Dr Ian Maidment, Reader in Clinical Pharmacy at Aston University and lead for PERSICOPE, said:
“We need to use community pharmacy to a much greater extent for COVID-19 vaccination, particularly for boosters against new variants such as the Delta (Indian) variant. The current model (for example, the large hubs) may not be sustainable in the longer term, particularly if annual COVID-19 vaccination is required.
“Our work found some key ways to make this happen. The easy access and local convenience of high street pharmacies makes them an ideal location for vaccinating at-risk populations.”
Alastair Buxton, Director of NHS Services at PSNC said:
“This research provides a timely examination of the role community pharmacy teams have played in supporting their communities to fight back against COVID-19.
“By keeping their doors open throughout, pharmacies have maintained day-to-day activities, and managed increased demand for many services – including advice on the management of minor illness. They have also substantially increased the number of flu vaccinations administered and played a key part in the COVID-19 vaccination programme.
“These findings will help guide policy in the later stages of the pandemic and guide practice in any future pandemics.”
PERISCOPE was jointly funded by UK Research and Innovation and the National Institute for Health Research.