South Tyneside council chief backs Shot in the Arm campaign to bring vaccines closer to home via pharmacies

South Tyneside’s top boss has thrown her weight behind calls for pharmacists to be enlisted to help bring Covid-19 vaccines closer to people’s homes

South Tyneside Council Leader Cllr Tracey Dixon
South Tyneside Council Leader Cllr Tracey Dixon

Prime Minister Boris Johnson has promised everyone should live within ten miles of a Covid-19 vaccination centre – but the Gazette and its sister titles across the country are calling for this to be slashed to ten minutes with the help of community pharmacies.

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The drive has now been backed by Tracey Dixon, the new leader at South Tyneside Council, who is also urging the Government rethink its current policy on the jabs.

She said: “Community pharmacy providers have played an extremely important role in our COVID response in South Tyneside and we hope this will continue.

“Pharmacies have been at the frontline throughout the pandemic and they have a valuable role to play in the mass vaccination required to get the COVID vaccine to people, close to their homes.

“We look forward to further information from the Government and the NHS on how community pharmacies will be involved as the vaccination programme increases in scale.”

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Cllr Dixon stepped into the top job vacated by her former boss, Iain Malcolm, in November 2020, promising to focus on the borough’s health and economy.

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Before becoming leader of the council, she was previously responsible for the council’s health and wellbeing brief.

Ministers have suggested about 200 of the country’s biggest pharmacies could be added to the vaccine rollout programme as it ramps up.

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But even that would still exclude thousands of facilities from a scheme the government hopes will have given out 15 million jabs over the next six weeks.

About 1.5 million people in the UK have had at least one dose of coronavirus vaccine so far.

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Pharmacists already dish out winter flu jabs every year and are also trained to give a range of other injections, with many insisting they are ready, willing and able to start helping in the fight against COVID-19.

Importantly, their assistance would also mean thousands more people living within walking distance of a possible vaccination centre.

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The Royal Pharmaceutical Society has also backed the Gazette’s campaign, estimating 1.3 million extra jabs could be delivered across the UK every week if pharmacies were brought on board.

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