Covid vaccine doses will be diverted to areas of the UK which have fallen behind the Government’s rollout schedule before further jabs can be administered in areas which are ahead.
While the vaccine rollout is proceeding at pace across the country, with more than four million people having received a first dose, there are concerns that a so-called ‘postcode lottery’ system is emerging, as some areas have managed to distribute vaccines faster than others.
‘Prioritising vaccine supply for over-80s’
The varied speed of the rollout in different areas led ministers to pledge that some younger patients could start getting the vaccine ahead of schedule in those areas where all over-80s have now been vaccinated.
However, Health Secretary Matt Hancock has said that stocks of the vaccine will be prioritised for those areas which still have a significant number of people over-80 yet to be vaccinated.
He said that “prioritising the supply of the vaccine into those parts of the country that need to complete the over-80s, but we don’t want to stop the areas that have effectively done that job already”.
Different regions compared
Some areas of England have been able to vaccinate a significantly larger proportion of their population already than others.
In the South West NHS region, around 10 per cent of the population is thought to have been vaccinated, while the figure stands at around four per cent in the North East and Yorkshire.
Speaking to Sky News, Brandon Lewis MP said: “Different local areas will look at their local needs and how they’re moving through that and the decisions they make, but we’re supplying everybody on an equal basis to ensure that people across the country get the vaccinations in good time.
“We’re very clear that the areas should be going through and treating the people and only moving on to the second cohort when the vast majority of the first cohort have been vaccinated.”
Speaking to LBC, he added: “We’re very clear that areas should be getting through the majority of the first cohort before they move on to the second cohort, but there will be an overlap.
“The reality is as you’re moving through these, as you start to bring the second cohort in, there will be a bit of an overlap.”