The COVID Champion scheme, which ran from July 2021 to March 2022, significantly increased vaccination coverage and reduced health inequalities across south east London.
NHS South East London worked with Local Pharmaceutical Committees (LPCs) to increase vaccine uptake across SEL, especially across areas of low-uptake and high levels of vaccine hesitancy by successfully using community pharmacies as part of an “every contact counts” approach.
The scheme involved opportunistically identifying patients and residents who had not had their vaccine, discussing the vaccination programme and, with consent, booking the patient for a vaccination or signposting them to their local walk-in centre.
In addition to community pharmacies, virtual community wellness outreach was completed through the LPC to local community groups to discuss self-care, improving wellness, explain the pharmacist role in helping people look after their own health, and schemes that pharmacists offer including vaccinations.
Vanessa Burgess, Chief Pharmacist for NHS South East London said:
“With 89% of the population in south east London living within 20 mins of a community pharmacy, they are uniquely placed to target the most hard-to-reach communities, and this proved vital during the vaccine programme.
“Our pharmacists stepped up to the plate when needed and delivered during this very challenging time, and we are delighted that the importance of community pharmacies in improving health outcomes has been publicly acknowledged like this, especially in one of the most contested categories.”