Co-operative Pharmacy expands services for Muslim community

July 26, 2011

The Co-operative Pharmacy is extending its dedicated healthcare service for members of the Muslim community by offering a meningococcal (ACWY) vaccination package to pilgrims travelling for Hajj and Umrah. The service is in partnership with Novartis Vaccines and The Muslim Council of Britain.

In addition to offering tailored medicine checks and stop smoking advice throughout the rest of July and the month of Ramadan (August), from  September, as a permanent service, Muslim pilgrims will be able to obtain the vaccination from one of The Co-operative Pharmacy’s 400 participating branches*. 

The meningococcal (ACWY) vaccine is a health requirement for individuals performing the Hajj – a pilgrimage to Mecca which able-bodied Muslims are expected to perform at least once in their lives. This year it will take place in November and The Co-operative Pharmacy is urging people to consider preparing early, as the vaccination is required before travel paperwork can be completed. 

Before visiting the pharmacy for the vaccination, individuals must obtain a voucher which entitles them to the vaccination for £35**.  Vouchers can be obtained from local mosques, community centres, and participating Co-operative pharmacies. ***Dr Shuja Shafi, Chair of the Health and Medical Committee, at the Muslim Council of Britain said: “We have supported The Co-operative Pharmacy’s Ramadan campaign for the last couple of years, so we are pleased to be working with Novartis Vaccines and The Co-operative Pharmacy to offer this new and essential service for Muslim pilgrims.

“Preparing for Hajj or Umrah can be costly but by launching this service with a transparent and fixed fee we hope to reduce the overall cost of obtaining the vaccination.”

Throughout the month of Ramadan a total of 84 Co-operative Pharmacies with specially trained pharmacists located in areas with a high proportion of Muslim customers, will continue to offer a free tailored “medicines check” service which incorporates stop smoking advice.

Although Muslims who are ill can be exempt from fasting, many continue to observe the fast. This can mean that oral medicines are not taken at the correct time intervals, not taken at all, or that their effectiveness is altered due to drugs’ interactions with food.

The pharmacist will ensure that if the patient needs to change the times they take their medicines they continue to manage their condition effectively and safely. They will also identify those who are looking to stop smoking, through the stop smoking advice service, supported by Nicorette. 

This is the ideal time of year to consider stopping smoking as Muslims will already be abstaining during daylight hours to fulfil their religious obligation of fasting. The Co-operative Pharmacy has trained branch staff to share ways to help the patient beat the addiction and change existing habits. 

Mandeep Mudhar, Business Development Director at The Co-operative Pharmacy, said “Last year we were able to help a significant number of Muslim people intending to fast during Ramadan and we are delighted to be able to extend our specialist services to the community.

“We appreciate the importance of cultural understanding and sensitivity when discussing the implications on healthcare of people’s religious beliefs. We’re not making assumptions about how Muslim patients might act, but our trained pharmacists are here to help if people have any questions about medicines compliance during Ramadan and to answer travel health queries in preparation for Hajj or Umrah.”

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**this includes the conjugated meningococcal ACWY vaccination, administration and a certificate.



Additional Information:

Umrah is a pilgrimage to Mecca at any time other than Hajj.

About the Co-operative Pharmacy

The Co-operative Pharmacy was the first pharmacy to provide a tailored medicine check to Muslims during the month of Ramadan.  In 2008 the business identified branches situated in areas where there was a Muslim population of 10% or over, living within a one mile radius of the pharmacy.  A total of 40 Co-operative Pharmacy teams initially took part in the training to provide a Ramadan tailored free medicine check in England and Wales offered on a trial basis.

This was rolled out to nearly twice as many branches (79) in 2009 and in 2010 the service was extended to encompass offering stop smoking advice to Muslim patients, during Ramadan in 84 branches. 

The Co-operative Pharmacy is part of The Co-operative Group, the UK’s largest mutual business, owned not by private shareholders but by almost six million consumers.  It is the UK’s fifth biggest food retailer, the leading convenience store operator and a major financial services provider, operating The Co-operative Bank, Britannia and The Co-operative Insurance. Among its other businesses are the number one funeral services provider and Britain’s largest farming operation. As well as having clear financial and operational objectives, the Group has also set out its social and sustainability goals in its groundbreaking Ethical Plan, which specifies almost 50 commitments in these areas.

The Group operates over 5,000 retail trading outlets, employs more than 110,000 people and has an annual turnover of £13.7bn.  Further information is available at

For further information contact:

Alex Wilson     
Senior Public Relations Officer
The Co-operative Group
0161 2663416

Craig Noonan
PR Manager
0161 266 3589