Bradford’s oldest city centre pharmacy will become one of the first independent in the country to administer Covid-19 vaccinations thanks to support from Bradford BID and The Broadway shopping centre.

Rimmington’s, in Bridge Street, which will start vaccinating people (with appointments only) this Saturday [January 23], is the only Bradford pharmacy to win a contract with NHS England to provide them.

Initially, they will receive 1,200 doses of the Oxford Astra Zeneca vaccine which they expect to administer over a four-day period.

“We’re incredibly proud to be able to play our part in helping to beat this horrific virus,” said Qaisar Sheikh, who runs the pharmacy with his business partner Sajid Hussain.

“Rimmington’s has been going since 1842 and we have a long history of innovation and community support and this feels like another really important chapter.

“We already run flu vaccinations every winter so it was a natural extension for us to apply to take part in the Covid programme but the Government is rightly being extremely careful to ensure only those with the experience and skills to do this can be involved in the vaccine roll-out.”

Business partners Qaisar Sheikh and Sajid Hussain (right and far right) outside Rimmington’s. Inset, BID manager Jonny Noble (far left) and The Broadway general manager Ian Ward

After a test run last week involving just seven pharmacies, the Government is now rolling out the community vaccination programme to just 200 more pharmacies across the country.

Mr Sheikh said Rimmington’s had had to fulfil certain conditions which they wouldn’t have been able to meet without the help and support of the Bradford Business Improvement District (BID) and the Broadway shopping centre.

“They’ve both been brilliant and we couldn’t have done this without their support,” he said. “It was vital that we were able to provide parking for those coming to be vaccinated and The Broadway has very kindly agreed to provide up to 90 minutes’ free parking for those with vaccination appointments.

“They will be letting us have about 1,200 spaces over the initial four days, which is fantastic!”

Rimmington’s also needs to provide a covered rest and recovery area for those who have had the vaccine who must wait for 15 minutes after the jab before they can leave in case they have a reaction.

“Jonny Noble at Bradford BID has liaised with us and the local authority to allow us to place a marquee at the bottom of Ivegate with a fenced off area, which is perfect,” said Mr Sheikh. “Without this we would have struggled to accommodate enough people, but this means we can really ramp up the numbers and vaccinate as many people as possible.”

He stressed that, as with all vaccine centres, only people with appointments will be able to attend for a jab but it would take pressure off the NHS and GPs and help to get the vaccine out faster.

“We have five fully-trained vaccinators and we will be part of the NHS booking system, so people can now choose Rimmington’s  – from one of six central locations – to give them their jab if they wish after they have received the letter from their GP offering them the vaccination,” he said.

BID manager Jonny Noble said: “It’s great news that we are able to have a city centre pharmacy joining the battle to beat Covid and the BID is really pleased to be able to step up and help out Rimmington’s, which is a key fixture in the heart of Bradford. We will maintain contact with them to see how we may be able to animate this area further as things progress.

“We’re sure they’ll do a great job and that they’ll be able to continue to provide this service long after the first batch of doses.”

Ian Ward, general manager of The Broadway, said: “It’s more crucial than ever that we must work together to help stop the spread of Covid-19 to support the NHS and save lives. The vaccination roll out in Bradford is picking up pace and we’re committed to doing anything we can to support the community through the pandemic.

“The Broadway is offering parking for all those attending Rimmington’s appointments for a vaccination, visitors simply take their parking ticket to the pharmacy who will validate it to allow exit free of charge.”