NHS vaccine centres 'offering Covid jabs to family and friends under 70'

NHS centres have been giving coronavirus vaccines to friends and family who are not in any of the current priority groups, sources claim.

The NHS already openly offers doses to relatives of staff to avoid throwing away leftover Pfizer jabs – which come in boxes of 975 and can only be stored for five days after they have been thawed – as long as they are in one of the top four priority groups. 

But The Telegraph alleges vaccine centres all over England have been inviting younger friends and relatives to get their doses. 

South Trafford Primary Care Network in Hale, Greater Manchester, admitted people in their forties were given the vaccine. 

A spokesperson said they had to do this because they had vaccinated all vulnerable patients in their area and were unable to safely transfer leftover jabs to a different location. 

Similarly some vaccination centres in Kent, Essex, Buckinghamshire and South London have offered the doses to friends and relatives under 70. 

An anonymous source told The Telegraph a staff member at a Liverpool NHS hub was allowed to give the jab to people as young as 30. 

The Nottingham University NHS Trust has a ‘friends and family list’ that gives staff the opportunity to offer leftover vaccines to people they know. 

While a spokesperson said the list only includes those who are over 75, the newspaper alleges injections have been given to people in their 50s. 

Cheshire’s Warrington Hospital also runs a ‘friends and family scheme’ where workers are allowed to nominate people for vaccines who fall into the Government’s nine priority groups – people who are over 50 or who are clinically vulnerable. 

Currently the vaccine is being rolled out to care home residents, frontline health care and social care workers, other carers and those over 70 years old. 

Any doses given to people outside those categories have to be under ‘exceptional circumstances’ where medical staff can show it is ‘clinically appropriate and where resources would otherwise have been wasted’, according to official guidance. 

Ministers have said younger, healthier people should not be allowed to ‘jump the queue’ and be vaccinated before the vulnerable or elderly.

A Whitehall source told The Telegraph that vaccine centres should work harder to make sure their ‘friends and family lists’ only include people who fall into the categories already being vaccinated. 

Senior NHS sources have reportedly threatened legal action against those centres that are unnecessarily offering the vaccine to people outside of the eligible groups. 

It comes as the most recent figures show that a total of 6.4 million have been vaccinated with Saturday seeing the highest daily figures since the rollout began – 491,970 got their first jab and 1,043 got their second. 

The Government’s goal is to vaccinate 15 million people in the top four priority groups by February 15. 

This would mean 397,333 jabs would need to be administered every day, which was exceeded on Thursday, Friday and Saturday. 

The NHS said: ’The NHS is prioritising people most at-risk of Covid-19, in line with the guidance set by the JCVI, with the aim of offering everyone in these groups a vaccination by the middle of February.

‘Local vaccination sites should also be managing their appointment lists to ensure all appointments are filled and so they have a back-up list of patients and staff, in the top four cohorts, who can receive the vaccine at short notice.’ 

The Nottingham University NHS Trust said: ‘We have been offering the vaccine to our communities across Nottinghamshire, including the friends and family of our staff who are over 75, and anyone outside of those priority cohorts should not be offered a vaccine at this time.’

Metro.co.uk has also contacted the South Trafford Primary Care Network for comment. 

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