Downing Street has warned the public against using tech loopholes to “queue jump” for Covid-19 vaccinations.
No.10 hit out after an Evening Standard investigation found people who were not yet eligible for the vaccine had managed to get the jab by signing up through links shared on WhatsApp and social media.
The links are part of the online booking system by Swiftqueue which is being used by some NHS trusts to coordinate vaccine appointments for staff.
The website allowed anyone to book a vaccine over the age of 18 and regardless of eligibility.
People who were not NHS staff or on the vaccine priority list had managed to use the portal to secure Covid jabs in vaccine centres in Westfield in east London, and parts of the north.
But a No.10 spokesperson said on Thursday that the Swiftqueue terms and conditions made clear that no one who was ineligible for the vaccine should use its service.
Anyone attending through use of its service will now be asked for proof of an invitation for a vaccine before being jabbed.
“That will ensure that no one who is currently ineligible for the vaccine receives it as a result of making a false online declaration. Nobody should be seeking to queue jump,” the spokesperson said.
“Nobody should be trying to jump the queue for a vaccine. We prioritise those that we’ve prioritised based on clinical need.
“The fact that the overwhelming majority of those who are hospitalised and sadly die from the disease come from the cohorts that are contained within phase one of the JCVI [Joint Committee On Vaccination and Immunisation] vaccination list – that’s why we prioritise them.”
Under the current “phase one” vaccination programme, only those over 70, and staff in care homes and within the NHS, should be getting the jab. The PM has set a target of February 15 to complete all their vaccinations.
All over-50s will be next in line for the vaccine by the spring. Phase two, which could give priority to key workers, has yet to be decided.
The Standard discovered earlier this week that Swiftqueue online links meant for staff at the East London NHS Foundation Trust were being shared outside the mental health trust’s workforce.