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Vaccine supply fears: NHS letter warns ‘significant reduction’ of jab doses in weeks

Coronavirus vaccine: UK exceeds 25 million first doses administered

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The NHS has been told that there will be a reduction in the weekly supply in vaccine jabs, from the week commencing 29 March, meaning volumes for first doses will be significantly constrained. In a letter to local health leaders, signed by Emily Lawson, NHS Chief Commercial Officer and SRO Vaccine Programme, as well as Dr Nikita Kanani, Medical Director for Primary Care, NHS England said this will continue for a four-week period, “as a result of reductions in national inbound vaccines supply”.

The letter states: “From the start of the programme, the NHS has successfully had to adjust week-to-week vaccine delivery in the light of fluctuations in supply. As previously notified, pleasingly this week and next see significant increases in vaccine supply.

“However, the Government’s Vaccines Task Force have now notified us that there will be a significant reduction in weekly supply available from manufacturers beginning in the week commencing 29 March, meaning volumes for first doses will be significantly constrained.

“They now currently predict this will continue for a four-week period, as a result of reductions in national inbound vaccines supply.

“We have today opened up national booking to everyone aged 50 and over, so over this next period it is vital we focus on vaccinating those in cohorts 1 – 9, who are most vulnerable to COVID-19, as well as delivering to the agreed schedule significantly increased numbers of second doses, which double from the beginning of April.

NHS letter warns of ‘significant reduction’

NHS letter warns of ‘significant reduction’ (Image: GETTY)

“Now we have opened vaccination to cohorts 1-9, it is very important we focus our efforts on reaching as many of these groups as possible whilst administering second doses. We must take this time to deliver protection to the most vulnerable.”

The letter from NHS England added that from today, the announced supply constraint means vaccination centres and community pharmacy-led local vaccination services “should close unfilled bookings from the week commencing 29 March and ensure no further appointments are uploaded to the National Booking System or Local Booking Systems from 1 to 30 April”.

NHS England also warned in the letter: “Revised vaccine supply is likely to result in a reduction in workforce demand in hospital hubs and vaccination centres.

“We are asking systems to start planning now about how they will deploy staff to alternative settings to support increased cohort penetration.

READ MORE: Katya Adler exposes why Italy ‘under pressure’ to suspend vaccine

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Vaccine news: The UK has received high praise for its vaccination programme (Image: PA)

“ICSs and STPs should work with their lead employers and vaccination providers to ensure that staffing is in place to support innovative delivery and increased cohort 1 – 9 penetration.

“For example, stewarding and non-clinical roles to support the delivery of drive through vaccination services, community pop up and mobile clinics.

“For clinical roles we would like to encourage providers to coordinate with primary care services how clinically qualified staff might be deployed to provide vaccine confidence conversations with patient populations with low uptake.”

The letter concludes: “Our vaccination delivery programme was designed to be flexible, scaled up and diversified in line with fluctuating international vaccine supplies.”

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Vaccine news: Matt Hancock had insisted Britain was ‘ahead of schedule’ to offer a first dose to all over-50s by April 15 (Image: PA)

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Vaccine news: Boris Johnson hailed the UK hitting the 25 million vaccine dose milestone (Image: PA)

BBC political editor Laura Kuenssberg questioned how the positivity around the UK’s vaccine supply could have changed within a matter of hours.

She tweeted: “Justin Madders for Labour tells us ‘ministers were saying things were going very well in terms of vaccine supply only this morning, so something has gone very badly wrong in the last couple of hours’.”

The UK has received widespread praise for the pace at which it is rolling out its vaccine programme, but has also repeatedly clashed with the European Union over supplied of jabs.

The Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) said more than 25 million people in the UK have now received their first vaccine jab in the first 100 days of the vaccination programme.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock had insisted Britain was “ahead of schedule” to offer a first dose to all over-50s by April 15.

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Vaccine news: More than 25 people in the UK have received their first dose (Image: EXPRESS)

Prime Minister Boris Johnson had also earlier said: “This latest milestone is an incredible achievement – representing 25 million reasons to be confident for the future as we cautiously reopen society.

“Thank you once again to the brilliant NHS, scientists, armed forces, volunteers, and all those who’ve helped our rollout.”

The UK Government is confident all adults will be offered a vaccine by the end of July.

But on Wednesday, EU chief Ursula von der Leyen threatened to ban exports of vaccines to Britain in order to safeguard doses for its own 450 million citizens.

She also expressed frustration over a lack of deliveries coming from AstraZeneca in the UK.

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