'This is the only way out of it': Hospital boss backs Shot In The Arm campaign

The boss at Blackpool Victoria Hospital has backed calls for all pharmacies to be enlisted in the war against the coronavirus, saying: "We have got to get everybody vaccinated as quickly as possible."

By Michael Holmes
Monday, 25th January 2021, 12:30 pm

Kevin McGee spoke as more than 122,500 people signed our 'Shot In The Arm' campaign, which calls on the Government to give everyone the ability to get a jab within 10 minutes of their home by using our great pharmacy network.

He said: "That's a really positive campaign because this is the only way out of it."

Mr McGee, whose hospital is in the midst of a battle against the surging second wave of Covid cases, called the NHS's vaccination drive "as the beginning of the end", with the push to jab the elderly, sick, and health care workers "the start".

More than 122,000 people have backed our Shot In The Arm campaign so far

But he said: "We have to push on this. Every ounce of effort the NHS has got is going into the vaccination because, if you get that right, it's the beginning of the end.

"I would support any method of vaccination that gets it out quickly and safely to the general population.

"Currently we have hospital hubs, primary care hubs, and we have got the mass vaccination hubs, and they are really starting to crank through the work.

"But I do think this will become more routine as we go through, and the more opportunities we have got to have various sites and locations where people can get the vaccination the better."

Our campaign was born after thousands of readers and members of the public all over the UK expressed concern about the way vaccines are currently being rolled out.

Many have noticed elderly people being asked to queue up outdoors in order to receive a vaccine.

You can sign the petition by clicking here - and by sharing it on social media you can help reach more people and convince Prime Minister Boris Johnson to heed the call to let all pharmacies deliver the jab.

As well as signing the petition, you can also write to your local MP, asking them to support the campaign and raise the issue in Parliament.

Allowing local pharmacies to do their bit in helping to administer the Covid-19 vaccine will increase the pace at which a full roll-out can be achieved, and make it much easier for people to access the vaccine in their community.

There are around 11,000 local pharmacies in the UK which currently aren’t part of plans to distribute the vaccine, despite the largest 200 pharmacies being approved as part of the programme already.

With local pharmacies already playing such a trusted and crucial part in community-based healthcare, allowing them to help with the vaccination roll-out will help increase take-up and make it easier for members of the public to access their jabs - particularly for the most vulnerable.

Pharmacy staff are qualified to deliver vaccinations and have experience administering similar programmes like the winter flu jab.

Royal Pharmaceutical Society president Sandra Gidley said: “There are over 11,000 pharmacies. If each of those does 20-a-day that is 1.3 million-a-week extra vaccines that can be provided, very often to those who are hardest to reach.

She added: “Why would any government not want to do that?”

The majority of pharmacies are already equipped with the staff and facilities to join the vaccination programme, and the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine is particularly well-suited to pharmacies, as it doesn’t require low-temperature storage and involves one initial dose, with the second coming up to 12 weeks later.

Where pharmacies don’t currently have the capacity to be involved with the rollout, the Government can and should intervene and provide support to ensure they do.

'Use the power of your voices'

Gillian Parkinson, JPIMedia's editorial director for the North West, said: “We've had thousands of people still tell us this week about their concerns over the roll out vaccines. What is clear is there are still so many unanswered questions.

“While the Government has said most people are within 10 miles of a vaccine centre, put frankly, this doesn't go far enough. Many of you have told us your concerns about how elderly and infirm relatives would struggle to attend their appointments if they have to travel.

“Everyone should have access to a jab within 10 minutes of their homes and our community pharmacies have told us that those who can are ready, willing and able to help quickly roll out the jabs.

“That is why today we want to use the power of your voices to the Government and we need your support to let our experts have a shot at playing their part.”

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