“We are set up and ready": South Shields pharmacist backs the Gazette's Shot in the Arm campaign
South Tyneside’s top pharmacist has given his backing to the Gazette’s new Shot in the Arm campaign by calling on the government to expand its coronavirus vaccination programme.
Hassan Malik, lead pharmacist for the borough’s primary care network, said lives could be saved if community chemists were allowed to vaccinate on their premises.
He confirmed he had spoken to many local independent pharmacists and most are raring to be involved in the national vaccination scheme.
The Gazette initiative calls on the government to allow community chemists – rather than only specialist hubs, hospitals and GP surgeries - to distribute the vaccine, a move also supported by the Royal Pharmaceutical Society (RPS).
Mr Malik, owner of Carter’s Chemists in Fowler Street, South Shields, said: “We could start distributing coronavirus vaccinations in our pharmacies tomorrow if given the go ahead.
“My pharmacy has given over 1,200 flu jabs to people since September, and there is no difference to us giving out the coronavirus vaccination.
“We have given the flu job to many elderly people, the very same people that the Government wants vaccinated quickly against coronavirus.
“We are set up and ready and could start immediately, we have the facilities in place, and I would urge the Government to allow community pharmacies to take part.
“If they want the people vaccinated quickly, then this is the way to do it. It doesn’t make sense for pharmacies to be left out.
“I certainly support the Gazette’s initiative and I’m sure the majority of pharmacies in South Tyneside would feel the same.”
Knights Chemist, at Cleadon Park, South Shields, also backed Shot in the Arm.
A spokesman said: “There is no reason why local pharmacies cannot play their part in giving people the coronavirus vaccination.
“Delivering the Pfizer vaccine is not practical due to issues around storage, but the others we could.
“I would definitely be a good idea for pharmacies to take part in the vaccination programme.”
The RPS, which is also backing the campaign, says using community pharmacies could ensure an extra 1.3 million people could be vaccinated across the country each week.