Scheme to give students coronavirus vaccine scrapped within hours

Video report by ITV News Meridian's Christine Alsford

A scheme offering students in Bournemouth the chance to get a coronavirus vaccine has been withdrawn, just hours into the first day.

Long queues formed outside the Bournemouth International Centre as university students lined up to receive their jab.

It is after Bournemouth University was advised by health officials that there was surplus capacity to start offering the vaccine out to students.

From 8am, queues stretched back for more than a quarter of a mile as young people tried to take advantage of the walk-in service.

However Dorset HealthCare, which is running the vaccination sessions at the venue, says it had been overwhelmed with the response and had to withdraw the scheme 'until further notice'. 

Officials said they'd taken the decision because they did not want to disrupt the planned vaccination programme for the local community. 

A Dorset HealthCare spokesman said: “Working with Bournemouth University we offered spare capacity at the centre to students in priority groups, many of whom are soon to travel home.

"We have agreed that no further walk-ins will be offered once our capacity is reached. The university will be communicating directly with their students about capacity this week.

Dorset Healthcare had initially said the scheme was in line with national guidance and was offering spare capacity to students in priority groups.

Watch: Students told us why they were looking forward to getting the vaccine

A spokesperson from Bournemouth University said: "We are delighted that there was such a high demand to the exceptional offer from Dorset Healthcare University NHS Foundation Trust of walk-in slots for Bournemouth University, Arts University Bournemouth and AECC students.

"However, so as not to disrupt the planned vaccination programme for the local community, we agree with their decision that this offer should be withdrawn until further notice."

The Vice Chancellor at the University of Portsmouth, speaking before the Bournemouth scheme was wiithdrawn, had been among those surprised by the move. 

Graham Galbraith said: "All categories of people should be treated the same. I don't think 18-year-old students at Bournemouth should have preference over any other university in the United Kingdom.

"I am rather surprised because my understanding was that the government was operating a policy of fair treatment and we are working down the age groups."

Bournemouth University says it hopes there will be a process for student vaccinations in the town soon. But for now, the jabs will only have reached the arms of a lucky few.