More than 120,000 people sign our petition to get community pharmacies involved in vaccine rollout

Opinion

Monday, 25th January 2021, 8:54 am
Updated Monday, 25th January 2021, 3:06 pm
The petition has now been signed by more than 120,000 people

This should be the week when Parliament prepares to debate a petition launched by this newspaper and sister titles across the country calling for pharmacies to be at the vanguard of the country’s vaccines strategy after the number of signatories surpassed the threshold of 100,000 people.

Yet, despite the clear public interest, there’s little likelihood, at present, of the ‘shot in the arm’ campaign by JPI Media titles being considered by MPs as the number of supporters tops 120,000.

That is because it was ruled out of order when it was first posted on Parliament’s website, ostensibly because it aligns too closely with existing Government policy, and this company has, instead, had to use the Change.org platform to ascertain the level of support.

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However it is not too late to remedy this if sufficient backbench MPs, and preferably from both major parties, are willing to use the means at their disposal to instigate a debate.

No-one, not least this newspaper, under-estimates the scale of the logistical operation now underway that has already seen more than five million people receive at least one Covid jab. Compared to other countries, the response has been very impressive. Northamptonshire has been one of the best in the country. So far, 55,000 people have received the jab.

And while Health Secretary Matt Hancock says, reassuringly, that nationwide three-quarters of all over-80s have now received at least one jab, he, himself, readily admits that some people are proving harder to reach than others because of factors like geography, fear and mistrust.

This is where the 11,000-plus community pharmacies come into their own. Trusted by their patients, their experience and expertise now needs to be utilised to enhance the effectiveness of the current strategy and, in particular, target the forgotten vulnerable. And it’s still not too late to do so.

Editor's note: A spokesperson for UK Parliament said: "The petition was rejected from the site, because the Government had already committed to using pharmacies for the vaccination roll-out. Any decision on whether ‘all’ pharmacies should be used would be an operational decision for the NHS to make independently of Government. Every petition submitted on Parliament’s petitions website has to be checked to ensure it meets our standards before it can be published. This particular petition was rejected as it called for something that was already happening, given the Government had already committed to using pharmacies for the roll-out of the Covid-19 vaccine."