London hospitals are giving Covid jabs to people who turn up without an appointment to avoid wasting doses intended for no-shows
- NHS sources say their current approach is ‘if there’s a free arm, we’ll jab it’
- They claim a frontline worker’s healthy partner in their 20s even got inoculated
- The surplus in supplies stems in part from no-shows failing to turn up for jabs
- Pfizer/BioNTech vaccines cannot be refrozen was defrosted and so must be used
- Matt Hancock last night warned supply was ‘limiting factor’ to vaccine drive
NHS sources involved with the rollout in the capital told MailOnline there is so often a surplus of doses their current approach is ‘if there’s a free arm, we’ll jab it’.
One hospital official said: ‘At the moment we’ve got more vaccines than recipients.
‘Chances are if you turn up on the day without an appointment we’ll give you the jab anyway – there’s no point in wasting a valuable resource.’
They said a frontline worker’s healthy partner in their 20s even got inoculated because ‘there was noone else available’.
Others arriving without an appointment have also allegedly been waved through without checking if they are in one of the priority groups due for vaccination.
The surplus in supplies stems in part from no-shows failing to turn up for their appointments, but also the large quantities of batches.
Pfizer/BioNTech vaccines have to be stored at ultra-low temperatures, and once they are defrosted cannot be re-frozen, meaning any unused surplus has to be binned.
NHS London said vaccine sites should be drawing up a back-up list of patients who can receive the jab at short notice to ensure doses are not wasted.
Boris Johnson watches a patient receiving a dose of the Oxford/AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine during a visit to Barnet FC’s ground at The Hive, north London
Early figures show there were 220,000 vaccinations in the UK yesterday. The number will be updated later today by the Department of Health to include jabs in all settings
In other coronavirus developments:
- The UK’s death toll passed the grim milestone of 100,000 recorded since the start of the pandemic;
- Boris Johnson is preparing to unveil draconian new border restrictions, with arrivals from coronavirus hotspots forced to quarantine in hotels at their own expense – and the prospect of the measures being extended to all travellers;
- Vaccine Minister Nadhim Zahawi revealed his uncle died from coronavirus before he received the vaccine;
- The UK’s jobless rate has crept up to 5 per cent – the highest level since 2016 – as employment slides;
- Labour has condemned Gavin Williamson for sending a junior minister to face calls from MPs to reveal a plan for ‘phased return’ of schools before Easter;
- European leaders are pushing to tighten Covid lockdown measures across the continent this week even after a weekend of violent anti-curfew riots in the Netherlands.
It is understood that, at the hospitals concerned, people arriving for vaccines are just asked for their name and date or birth and do not have to produce an appointment letter to be injected.
Matt Hancock last night warned the ‘limiting factor’ to the biggest vaccine drive in British history was supply.
‘As we know, supply is tight,’ the Health Secretary told a Downing Street briefing.
‘We’ve had a very strong performance in this past week. And I’m confident that the NHS will deliver every shot that’s made available to it.’
Doses of the Pfizer and Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccines are currently being administered in the UK at a rate of 250 per minute.
Fears of a possible kink in the supply line were sparked today after the EU threatened to block exports of the Pfizer vaccine amid a row over the slow rollout across the bloc.
Vaccines Minister Nadhim Zahawi said this morning he was ‘confident’ the UK would be able to procure enough supplies to meet the Government’s target of vaccinating 15million people in the top four priority groups by February 15.
Pharmacist Gurjit Dhadday administers a Oxford/AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine to pharmacist Josh Athwal at the Black Country Living Museum in Dudley
He told BBC Breakfast: ‘Supplies are tight, they continue to be, these are new manufacturing processes… It’s lumpy and bumpy, it gets better and stabilises and improves going forward.’
Over-80s, care home residents, extremely vulnerable patients and frontline health workers are first in line to receive jabs.
Mr Hancock last night revealed that 79 per cent of all over-80s have now received their first dose.
But, with some vaccine hubs already moving on to the over-70s group, concerns have been raised of a postcode lottery for receiving jabs.
Last week 2.5million people were vaccinated, bringing the overall total to 6.8million and putting the Government on track to meet its target next month.
A spokesperson for the NHS in London said: ‘The NHS is prioritising people most at-risk of Covid-19, in line with the guidance set by the JCVI, with the aim of offering everyone in these groups a vaccination by the middle of February.
‘Local vaccination sites should also be managing their appointment lists to ensure all appointments are filled and so they have a back-up list of patients and staff, in the top four cohorts, who can receive the vaccine at short notice.’