The Home Secretary has called COVID vaccine queue jumpers “morally reprehensible” after reports emerged of an IT loophole being abused by people seeking to get their jabs early.
Priti Patel said: “These individuals are putting the lives of vulnerable people at risk, the most vulnerable that have been prioritised by the government to receive the vaccine.”
Speaking at a Downing Street press conference she echoed the words of Dr Vin Diwakar who had earlier called people who tried to jump the vaccine queue “morally reprehensible.”
Dr Diwakar, NHS England regional medical director for London, said: “People are being called in priority order so that we can vaccinate those most at risk of serious illness first.
Watch: Medical expert criticises "morally reprehensible" people jumping Covid-19 vaccine queue
“That is why I was horrified to hear reports that some unscrupulous people have used links shared with them to try and falsely book a vaccination appointment.
“To seek to do this is denying some of the most vulnerable people in our community a life-saving vaccine.
“Let me be really clear about this: it is morally reprehensible to try and jump the queue and anyone who books to get the vaccine fraudulently will be turned away.”
Reports emerged yesterday in the Evening Standard of people abusing the IT system for providing vaccine appointments to get their jabs early.
Links shared on social media leading to the online booking system by Swiftqueue have been used by people who are not in the top four categories prioritised for the first jabs by the government.
Patel was responding to a question over whether people who skip the queue should face fines.
She said: “As I’ve always said, as we say as a Government as well, all our measures are under review.
“But quite frankly right now our world-class, world-leading vaccine roll-out programme is there for the most vulnerable people – we’ve prioritised our cohorts and our groups – and our focus is on getting that vaccine to the most vulnerable to make sure we protect them and obviously protect others in the community as well.”
Responding to the Evening Standard reports that links to the Swiftqueue system used to book jabs for NHS staff were being shared online, the Prime Minister’s official spokesman said measures were in place to prevent people getting the vaccine as a result of making a “false online declaration”.
“Nobody should be seeking to queue-jump, we have set out why we are prioritising those we are, given the increased risk that those groups face,” the spokesman said.
“It is important that we provide protection to those who are most at clinical risk.”
During the conference, Dr Diwakar sought to allay fears of the safety of the vaccine.
He pointed to skepticism that was high in some Asian and black communities.
He said: “There are longstanding concerns that actually go back generations because of the history, in the way people were brought up by their grandparents, who were told by their grandparents that experiments were done in the early part of the last century, that unethical experiments were done way back in the 60s.
“I’m convinced as a doctor, having looked at all the research, looked at the processes that we have through the medicines health regulatory authority, this is a safe and effective vaccine.
“The things that happened historically in the past have not happened now we have good research evidence and I would urge people who are offered the vaccine to come together.”
Government data up to January 20 shows of the 5,437,284 jabs given in the UK so far, 4,973,248 were first doses – a rise of 363,508 on the previous day’s figures.
Some 464,036 were second doses, an increase of 3,411 on figures released the previous day.
The seven-day rolling average of first doses given in the UK is now 293,571.
Based on the latest figures, an average of 401,070 first doses of vaccine would be needed each day in order to meet the Government’s target of 15 million first doses by February 15.
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