"People should only have to walk 10 minutes to receive their vaccine" - MPs back Gazette's pharmacy jab campaign

The MPs for South Tyneside have urged the Government to make use of the network of 11,000 community pharmacies available across the UK in order to boost the rollout of the Covid vaccines.

Monday, 11th January 2021, 5:04 pm

Kate Osborne and Emma Lewell-Buck praised the work of high-street chemists throughout the pandemic while calling on Whitehall ministers to bring local facilities into the fold as part of the national effort to deliver and administer the jabs.

The pair threw their weight behind The Gazette's Shot in the Arm drive to incorporate local pharmacies into the Government’s vaccine programme, as the number of daily confirmed cases reached almost 70,000 in the UK last week.

One of Ms Osborne’s constituents, a community pharmacist in Jarrow, has also lent his backing to The Gazette’s campaign. His practice is one of dozens across the borough which could help roll out the vaccine locally.

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South Tyneside MPs Kate Osborne (left) and Emma Lewell-Buck (right) have both urged the Government to make use of England's network of high-street pharmacies for the vaccine rollout

In December, the Department of Health and Social Care said it was having "very positive discussions" with pharmacists with regards to incorporating chemists into the national vaccine scheme. But an agreement is yet to be secured.

South Tyneside’s MPs have already expressed their frustrations over the rate and distribution of the initial rollout of the Pfizer vaccine, as it was revealed in the days leading up to Christmas that only around 200 members of staff at the Sunderland and South Tyneside NHS Trust had received the jab.

The MP for Jarrow told The Gazette that integrating pharmacies into the national vaccine programme would not only speed up the rate of delivery – it would also help ensure vulnerable constituents’ access to the life-saving jabs.

“I’m delighted to support this campaign. People should only have to walk 10 minutes to receive their vaccine, not travel 10 miles,” she said.

The Gazette's Shot in the Arm campaign is calling for the Government to allow people to receive the Covid vaccine at their local pharmacists.

“Staff in local pharmacies across South Tyneside and Gateshead have vast experience in administering vaccines and should be utilised in order to help vaccinate those throughout our communities.

“The government should act and make vaccinations as accessible as possible, especially for those who are vulnerable and at a time when we are instructed not to travel out of our local area.

“I urge the Government to sort any issues they have with the roll out of the vaccine in South Tyneside as soon as possible and do everything they possibly can to support and ensure that the Gazette’s campaign to help vaccinate Britain is successful.”

Amid reports that some borough residents are harbouring concerns over the Covid vaccines, South Shields MP Emma Lewell-Buck argued that the take-up rate among constituents would be likely higher if the jabs were administered in the familiar setting of their high-street chemist.

She said: "It’s great news that we’ve got these vaccination centres, but pharmacists have been the unsung heroes of this pandemic.

"When some GP surgeries began to shut, it was the local pharmacies and the local pharmacists that stepped in and helped a lot of residents during the initial stages of the pandemic.

"People have a close connection with their local pharmacy. They probably feel a lot more comfortable going there than they would queueing outside of a mass vaccination centre.

"Having to travel 10 miles is not always an option for everyone. On public transport, 10 miles can be quite a difficult journey if, for example, you’ve got mobility issues.”

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