‘Covid has not gone away’: Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine to be sold on the high street

The jab, which is suitable for people aged 12 and over, will be sold in pharmacies and private health clinics

Jane Kirby
Friday 09 February 2024 14:47 GMT
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The Pfizer/BioNTech Covid jab will be sold in UK high street pharmacies from next month.

Pharmaceutical giant Pfizer is in talks with major pharmacy chains, such as Boots, to sell the vaccine to people who cannot get one on the NHS.

The price will be set by individual pharmacies – much in the way prices are currently set for annual flu jabs.

The vaccine, which is suitable for people aged 12 and over, will also be available from private health firms.

Dr Gillian Ellsbury, primary care medical director at Pfizer UK, said: “Covid-19 has not gone away and continues to be a threat.

“As we move from a pandemic to an endemic state, we need to ensure we remain ready to respond to this constantly evolving and unpredictable virus.

Vaccines remain an important pillar in helping to prevent serious illness or hospitalisation as a result of Covid-19.

“By enabling the wider availability of the Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine we are facilitating choice and access for those that are not eligible to receive it through the NHS programme, but want the option of a Covid-19 vaccine.”

An average of 3,563 people who had tested positive for Covid-19 were in hospital last week, down 11% from 3,983 the previous week and 16% below this winter’s high of 4,245 in early January.

Covid-19 patient numbers peaked at more than 9,000 last winter.

A spokeswoman for Moderna said it was looking to supply Covid-19 vaccines to healthcare providers for private sales in time for autumn 2024.

On Thursday, the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI), which advises the UK government on vaccines for the NHS, released details of who is eligible for a spring Covid booster.

It has said the jabs should be given on the NHS to adults aged 75 years and over, care home residents and anyone aged six months or over who is immunosuppressed.

The rate of Covid-19 hospital admissions has fallen week-on-week from 5.0 per 100,000 to 4.1 and remains below levels seen last winter.

Dr Mary Ramsay, UKHSA director of public health programmes, said the drop in Covid-19 activity was “encouraging”, but added: “An increase in emergency department attendances for flu-like-illness in those over age 65 shows that flu is still circulating in those who could be more vulnerable to severe illness, despite other indicators showing a decline.

“A free flu vaccine is still available from your GP or local pharmacy until the end of March, so there is still time to get vaccinated.

“You are eligible if you are over 65, a child aged two or three, have a specific long-term health condition, are pregnant, work in healthcare, or care for others.

“If you are showing symptoms of a respiratory illness, try to limit your contact with others, especially those more vulnerable, and consider wearing a mask if you do need to go out.”

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