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Army of pharmacists ready to help

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Published on 14 January 2021

Umesh Patel
Umesh Patel

A pharmacist, who has worked in Sunderland for more than 30 years, says an “army” of pharmacies are ready to help in the roll-out of the coronavirus vaccine.

Yesterday, the Prime Minister Boris Johnson told MPs the Government will offer 24-hour vaccinations to the public as soon as possible. Pharmacist Umesh Patel, who is also a mentor to Pharmacy students at the University of Sunderland, is backing calls for community pharmacists to play a bigger part in delivering the Oxford-AstraZenica jab.

He said: "Community pharmacies are an integral part of NHS and can help deliver the AstraZenica Covid vaccines at very short notice.

"We are an army of 11,000 pharmacies and we can mobilise quite a few across the country within 24 hours’ notice to provide a Covid vaccination service.

"Customers do not need appointment to visit their local pharmacy.”

Umesh studied Pharmacy at the University of Sunderland and graduated in 1978.

A year later, he became a member of the Royal Pharmaceutical Society of Great Britain, playing an active part in many local campaigns within his profession.

After opening his first pharmacy in London in 1980, Umesh moved to Sunderland 10 years later, where he runs Leema Pharmacy on Tunstall Road.

Umesh, who received an MBE for his services to the profession in 2011, was appointed to the University of Sunderland’s Board of Governors the following year.

Now, he is urging everyone to take the pandemic seriously and to get vaccinated.

“This is a deadly disease and does not discriminate anyone in the world. It will attack anyone young or old,” he said.

"We are fortunate to live in this country where the mass vaccination programme is underway, and it is free for everyone living in UK.

"Protect yourself and the people you love by taking the vaccine. Do not have two minds to decide to get the Covid jab, go get it as soon as possible.”