Superintendent Pharmacist, Asda
Supermarket pharmacies have become a hub for people of all backgrounds to access vaccines in their local community.
Unlike the GP surgery, where there are often long waiting lists for face-to-face appointments or incompatible working hours, the connected nature of a supermarket pharmacy means that you can drop in for your vaccinations at the same time as picking up your weekly shop.
Faisal Tuddy, Superintendent Pharmacist at Asda says: “Our in-store pharmacies are located at the heart of communities and easily accessible, which makes them a convenient option for priority groups living nearby.”
Joining the fight against COVID-19
As COVID-19 struck the country last year, British supermarket chain, Asda, wanted to find a way to help support the NHS, which was struggling to cope with the rising demand for COVID-19 vaccinations.
“In January, we became the first supermarket to support the NHS vaccination programme with in-store vaccination centres. Since then, our team of highly trained pharmacists have worked hard to deliver over 50,000 vaccinations to eligible patients” says Faisal.
In order to do this, the company reached out to the NHS to offer stores to help rollout the COVID-19 vaccine. Asda initiated the use of its extensive logistical network to help support NHS capacity. Focussing on non-essential business units to utilise space, they created three bespoke COVID-19 vaccination centres in Birmingham, Watford and London.
The upcoming flu season
The mass rollout of vaccines for COVID-19 has brought wider vaccination to the forefront over the last year.
With an increased understanding of the importance of vaccination in the community, uptake of the flu vaccine in 2020 was higher than ever. This year, we may see similar amounts of uptake, especially with the possibility of a booster requirement on the COVID-19 vaccine.
However, Faisal suggests that more could be done to reach a wider audience: “When it comes to the flu jabs, historically there has always been challenges to reach audiences that are younger than 60 years old.”
Free flu vaccinations are available to all those over the age of 50, or if you have certain health conditions, are pregnant, live with someone who is at a high risk from COVID-19 or are a front-line health or social care worker, you are eligible for a free flu vaccination. If you are not eligible for an NHS flu jab, you can still have that piece of mind by booking in with ASDA’s private service.
Pharmacies will continue to play a crucial role in helping to provide advice and support and reassurance for those in the community, long after the pandemic.