England’s high street pharmacies will begin rolling out Covid vaccines, as the virus death toll across the UK climbed above 100,000.
Boots and Superdrug branches will be among the six stores across England which will be able to administer the jabs from Thursday while the Government aims to hit its target of vaccinating all people in the four most vulnerable groups by the middle of next month.
Andrews Pharmacy in Macclesfield, Cullimore Chemist in Edgware, north London, Woodside Pharmacy in Telford and Appleton Village pharmacy in Widnes will be in the first group to hand out the injections, alongside Boots in Halifax, and Superdrug in Guildford.
Boris Johnson also told MPs that distribution “will be going to 24/7 as soon as we can” but said supply of doses remained the main barrier.
The Scottish Government published its vaccine delivery plan on Wednesday evening, including details of how many doses it expects to receive for each week until the end of May, prompting a row with London, which has declined to publish its numbers.
The six pharmacies have been picked because they can deliver large volumes of the vaccine and allow for social distancing, and Health Secretary Matt Hancock said it was “fantastic” that jabs would be available on the high street.
“Pharmacies sit at the heart of local communities and will make a big difference to our rollout programme by providing even more local, convenient places for those that are eligible to get their jab,” he said.
By the end of the month more than 200 community chemists will be able to give vaccines, according to NHS England.
The pharmacies join the 200 hospitals, around 800 GP clinics and seven mass vaccination centres where jabs are already being handed out.
Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer urged ministers to go further and use England’s 11,500 pharmacies to deliver round-the-clock vaccinations by the end of next month.
The expanded vaccination service in England comes as the daily reported UK death toll reached a new high on Wednesday, with 1,564 fatalities recorded within 28 days of a positive test.
The latest figures meant the grim milestone of more than 100,000 deaths involving coronavirus has now been passed in the UK, according to official data.