Confusion as people in Norfolk mistakenly turn up for booster jab

Audrey Burton, 97, receiving her COVID-19 vaccination at the Castle Quarter Vaccination Centre in No

There was some confusion in Norfolk over when people could get booster jabs. - Credit: Danielle Booden

There was a degree of confusion about the booster jab roll-out in Norfolk on Tuesday, with some people, believing they could turn up at walk-in centres for vaccinations as they had become eligible, turned away.

The government confirmed on Monday that all people aged 18 and over would be offered a Covid-19 booster jab - with the time people have to wait cut from six months to no sooner than three months.

Those aged 40 and over were already eligible for a booster vaccine if they had their second vaccination six months ago.

England's deputy chief medical officer Prof Jonathan Van-Tam said, at Monday's press conference, that the NHS would set out "in the next few days" how the roll-out will work in practice.

But, some people in Norfolk thought they could go get their boosters yesterday - only to find walk-in centres were not ready to receive them.

And that meant some who turned up at walk-in centres were turned away.

One man, who drove to Norwich from Brooke, said: "It was frustrating. The woman I spoke to there told me she was having to wait, so I would have to wait too.

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"It's going to put people off at a time when they need to be giving people boosters."

People who visited the national NHS website to book vaccinations on Monday night also discovered it was not yet taking bookings from newly eligible people.

The website states that those bookings are not yet available and adds: "We will update this page once the service is updated" and adds: "Please wait to be contacted by the NHS."

A message on Norfolk County Council's website states those people can also not yet get their booster at a walk-in clinic.

At Tuesday's press conference, where prime minister Boris Johnson urged more to get their booster jabs, some clarity was given on when people will be able to get them.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson during a media briefing in Downing Street, London, on coronavirus (Covid-19).

Prime minister Boris Johnson. - Credit: Daniel Leal-Olivas/PA Wire

Mr Johnson said the plan was for all adults to have been offered a booster jab by the end of January.

He said: "The target that we've set ourselves is to offer a booster to everyone eligible by the end of January.

"As with the first jabs, we will be working through people by age group going down in five-year bands, because it is vital that the older and the more clinically vulnerable get that added protection first.

"So, even if you have had your second jab over three months ago and you are now eligible, please don't try and book until the NHS says it is your turn."

Amanda Pritchard, chief executive of NHS England, said "while changes to the booking system protocols and patient group directive are put in place" the rollout will continue to vaccinate those already eligible and repeated the prime minister's call for people "not already eligible" not to contact the NHS about a jab until they are called forward.

Meanwhile, some of those in Norfolk who were already eligible have encountered a glitch with the national booking service.

A search for appointments in Norfolk told some people that the nearest centre to their postcode is in Glenfield Hospital in Leicestershire, which it described as 2.9 miles away.

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