The UK’s vaccine rollout was designed to ensure that frontline healthcare and social care workers were among the first to receive vaccines but queue-jumpers are seeking to exploit the system by posing as these professions to secure an early vaccination, centres administering the jab say.
While official proof is required when people arrive at a vaccination centre, anyone can book a slot online or by calling the 119 number if they claim to be working in one of these roles. This has resulted in vaccination centres having to turn people away for falsely claiming to work in the healthcare industry, losing slots that could have been taken up by people who are entitled to get the jab.
One pharmacist, Ash Soni, who runs a vaccination clinic in London, warned that they are “definitely seeing cases where people are using the national booking form, who have lied on their booking form”.
"We are turning away dozens of people every week who don’t meet the criteria, that are effectively trying to jump the queue."
This is not an isolated incident. Other vaccination centres have reported having to “call the police a few times” due to people who’ve tried to fraudulently secure a vaccine becoming aggressive or threatening violence.
Bhaveen Patel, who runs a vaccination clinic in Brixton, London, has called on the government to change the booking system to introduce eligibility checks on the website, rather than when people arrive for their jab.
But the joint chief nurse for NHS London, Martin Machray, defended the existing system, stating that “the online vaccination booking system provides guidance on frontline health worker eligibility,” reminding anyone who might book a slot that “official proof will be required in order to be vaccinated.”