Why we should trust chemists over vaccine rollout – GP Taylor

WE are just under a week into the latest “lockdown”. Deaths continue to soar and the NHS is stretched to breaking point.

I am still locked away trying to dodge the Covid bullet, whilst all around me I see people flouting the rules and probably spreading the disease.

Sadly, those people dying this week possibly got infected at their Christmas celebrations. You can’t say we weren’t warned. Covid loves a crowd!

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However, this isn’t a laughing matter. There is no conspiracy. This virus kills and those people who fail to isolate and social distance have blood on their hands.

Pharmacies should play a greater role distributing the Covid vaccine, argues GP Taylor.

For people like me, (over 60, fat, male with underlying heart condition) the future is uncertain.

My only hope is having the vaccine. Worryingly, I will have to wait until March.

That is two months of isolation tinged with dark mornings and the shroud of depression that comes with being locked away from the world.

I often wake in the night having had a Covid nightmare and try to think of ways to get the vaccine sooner, but it is impossible. I have to wait, there are people who need it more than me.

What is the best way to distribute Covid vaccines?

One thing is certain. Boris Johnson could be doing a lot more to get the jab into people’s arms. Now is the time for every chemist shop in the land to become vaccine centres.

They are ready and waiting with trained staff willing to bring hope to millions of people.

Each year, pharmacies around the country inject millions of doses of flu vaccine. The infrastructure is already there to be used.

At this crucial time, we need more than just Boots and Superdrug to help out. The vaccine has to be given out at local level so that all parts of our communities can have easy access.

Local pharmacies are widely trusted, writes GP Taylor.

What government fails to understand is that local pharmacies have the trust of the people they serve.

They are often the first port of call for many of us fed up with being fobbed off by a GP’s receptionist telling us we have to wait two weeks to see a doctor.

A good pharmacist knows their patients. It wasn’t long ago that my local chemist saved me from a major health issue when she noticed that the medicine I had been given for a minor problem had contra indications and would conflict with my heart medication.

If the figures are true and a fifth of the population are refusing the vaccine, chemists could play a major part in building the trust of sceptics.

It is important for all of us that the majority of the population are immunised.

There is no room for anti-vaxxers when it comes to Covid. It is frightening when a so-called celebrity takes to social media to say she fears the vaccine more than the virus.

It is vitally important that the benefits of the vaccine are shouted loud and clear and that the population has access to it now. Who better to do this than our local chemist?

There is an army of over 66,000 pharmacists working from around 12,000 pharmacies.

Each year they prepare a staggering one billion prescription items. These skilled professionals often work without recognition and now is the time to honour them by putting their skills to good use.

Last year over 15 million flu jabs were given out, surely this could be done with the Covid vaccine?

It is not good practice that only certain chemist shops are being chosen to give out the vaccine, every one of them should be involved in the fight. This is the only way we are going to beat the disease.

The Government has lost the lockdown battle. There are just too many people who are refusing to obey the rules. A large section of the population has lost its appetite to help control the virus. They put their petty needs before the greater good and for that they should be eternally ashamed.

Rule bending has become a national sport. Parks and beaches are packed and any excuse is given to carry on spreading. It is as if a national sense of stupidity has replaced common sense.

This week I heard the story of a woman who had asked her family not to visit her over Christmas. They ignored her request and now she is on the verge of death.

Another fatality to add to the 80,000 people consigned to the grave because a government failed to act quickly enough in March and has been too scared to impose an Asia-style lockdown and imprison rule breakers.

Unless Boris decides quickly to roll out the vaccine to all chemists, then we face a very uncertain future. The mutant virus could change again and who knows what hell on Earth will happen then.

Now is the time for direct action. Boris needs to get tough and act fast – and Britain needs to have every person in the population vaccinated before the virus kills more of our friends, relatives and loved ones.

GP Taylor is a writer and broadcaster. 
He lives in Whitby.

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