Booster jabs: Young people urged not to turn up without checking they are eligible for dose

  • Watch a report by ITV News Anglia's Elodie Harper

Health bosses have pleaded with young people to check if they are eligible for a booster dose of the coronavirus vaccine before turning up and expecting to get a jab.

People aged 30 to 39 are able from Monday to book their booster dose, and the prime minister announced on Sunday plans to roll out the dose to everyone over the age of 18 by the end of the month.

However, the booking system for those aged 18 to 29 will only open on Wednesday - and health chiefs in Cambridgeshire have warned young people not to simply assume they can walk in for a jab.

Matthew Winn, chief executive of Cambridgeshire Community Services NHS Trust, said: "Please check where your local premises are. Do not assume that they are open access and walk-in centres.

"Some of them may be bookable only - use the national booking system if you want the certainty of a slot."

Matthew Winn, chief executive of Cambridgeshire Community Services NHS Trust Credit: ITV News

Mr Winn said the expansion of the vaccine programme would be delivered in three ways - by primary care settings restarted vaccinations, pharmacists and other mobile and drive-through sites, and large-scale vaccination centres being expanded and extended.

"Between all of those different ways we hope to get somewhere near the extremely challenging target that the PM gave to the population last night," said Mr Winn.

"The [supply of the] vaccine is not the problem. The issue is going to be getting the logistics sorted out and getting our staff to be able to do that.

"The public will need to be aware that some NHS services will need to de-prioritise and defer some work so that staff can be released to go and work in the vaccination centres.

"I'm afraid that is the unpalatable truth. We can't do everything. We can't do the big numbers of vaccinations while doing everything else."

But others have raised questions over how the NHS will make decisions over what services to offer, and what to put on hold while staff are drafted into the vaccination effort.

Dr Shabina Qayyum, a GP and Labour councillor in Peterborough, said doctors urgently needed guidance.

"Wouldn't it be such a wonderful world if we had the workforce to be able to deal with all that we are dealing with in the way of backlog?" she said.

"Unfortunately we are under-resourced and that's where the whole problem is.

"We are very happy to deliver any programme, but we haven't had any information about what appointments need to be put off, [or] where they need to be put off - whether that's in primary and secondary care.

"We haven't received that information at this moment in time and I think we need to act quickly and receive that information."

On Sunday evening, Boris Johnson announced the booster vaccine programme will be opened up to every adult over 18 who has had a second dose of the vaccine at least three months ago, in response to what he called "a tidal wave of Omicron" that could cause "very many deaths".