Responding to a letter to NHS leaders about a "significant reduction" in vaccine supplies to the UK from 29 March, Ruth Rankine, director of the NHS Confederation's PCN Network, said:
“The NHS has worked flat out to vaccinate over 25 million people so far and throughout the last 100 days.
“It is reassuring that the Secretary of State has reaffirmed the Government’s commitment to vaccinate all over 50s by 15 April but putting an embargo on new first dose bookings for a whole month due to supply constraints beyond the NHS's control will make this an even taller order. This is particularly true given that the events in Europe have knocked some patients’ confidence in confirming or attending their scheduled appointments.
“With vaccine supply expected to be limited soon, primary care networks will follow the guidance in the letter and use this period to focus on second dose appointments, as well as to follow up with people who are aged over 50 and those who are clinically vulnerable or from specific communities [cohorts 1-9]. However, to help them do their jobs, better coordination of bookings between the mass and local vaccination sites is essential if we are to avoid appointments being wasted in this time or primary care services spending valuable time chasing their patients who have already booked in elsewhere.
“Our members have continued to go above and beyond during this programme but there is a long road ahead and they must be supported effectively in its next stage, especially as local sites are being asked to confirm their participation in vaccinating people aged under 50 [cohorts 10-12] by the end of this week.”