The UK will face a “significant cut” in vaccine supplies from March 29, according to a letter from NHS England.
The letter – which has been sent to local vaccination sites across the country – says volumes for the first doses are going to be “considerably limited”.
Healthcare providers have now been told that people aged 49 and under should only be offered a vaccine in ‘exceptional circumstances’ – for example if they are clinically vulnerable or if they are a frontline worker. .
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The disruption could last for four weeks, and the government’s vaccine task force told the health department it was linked to “cuts in the national supply of incoming vaccines.”
From today, vaccination centers must close unfilled bookings from March 29 – and ensure that no further appointments are scheduled for the entire month of April.
This could lead to disappointment for those hoping to receive their vaccine soon, and could cause delays for younger age groups.
Despite the letter’s strong language, Health Secretary Matt Hancock told the Downing Street briefing: ‘The vaccine supply is always lumpy and we regularly send technical letters to the NHS explaining the ups and downs. low supply over the next few weeks. you speak is a standard letter of these letters. “
Mr Hancock also stressed that the UK remains on track to deliver a first dose to the 32 million people in the first nine priority groups by April 15.
When asked if the letter meant those under 50 will have to wait an extra month to receive their vaccine, he reaffirmed his commitment that all adults can receive a vaccine by the end of July. .
In the letter, NHS England said it is “vital” that the second doses of COVID-19[female[feminine jabs are delivered on schedule, with the number of Britons due to receive their last vaccine set to double from early April.
“We have to take this time to provide protection to the most vulnerable,” he added.
Efforts are also being stepped up to minimize waste with existing supplies.
NHS Commercial Director Emily Lawson, who drafted the letter, added: “Our vaccine distribution program has been designed to be flexible, broad and diversified in response to fluctuating international vaccine supplies.
“Thank you for your continued efforts, and, as always, we are extremely grateful for all you are doing to make the NHS part of delivering this program the success it is.”
The news came hours after the UK announced that more than 25 million people have now had their first dose of a coronavirus vaccine – with all people over 50 who are invited to come in for a vaccine.
Tensions have also mounted with the EU, with European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen threatening to block vaccine exports to the UK.