In a letter to GPs, hospitals and councils, the United Kingdom National Health Service (NHS) has revealed that a fall in COVID-19 vaccine supplies will be affecting the rollout program leaving those under the age of 50 waiting longer than expected to receive their first dose.
AstraZeneca refutes claims of any shortage
The letter said that the Vaccine Task Force (VTF) warned of a significant reduction in supplies for a minimum of a four-week period starting on 29 March blaming it on 'reductions in national inbound vaccines supply.' However, AstraZeneca has since stated that there are currently no hold-ups for the UK.
This means that people will no longer be able to book an appointment to receive the jab from a vaccination centre or a pharmacy from March 29 to April 30. For those who have already confirmed an appointment between those dates, the vaccination will go as scheduled.
Priority, as has been the case since the beginning of the rollout program, will be given to the most vulnerable meaning that the next group in line to receive the jab—those under 50—will now be facing a longer waiting time before being able to receive the jab. Experts are saying that they could expect to get their first dose of the vaccine sometime in May.
Shortage will have no impact on roadmap
Matt Hancock, Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, said in response to the vaccine shortage that the UK will still meet its target of vaccinating all those over 50 by 15 April:
Supply is always lumpy and we are on course to deliver the offer that everybody who is aged 50 and above will be able to get vaccinated by the 15th of April. I recommit to that today. We are committed to all adults being able to get the jab by the end of July and we are on track to deliver on that commitment.
Another Senior Government source also reassured the public by saying that this setback would have no bearing on coming out of lockdown and full restrictions as planned in Boris Johnson's roadmap:
It doesn't stop us hitting our vaccination targets and there's no reason it should have any impact on the roadmap.