Pharmacy-led sites and mass vaccination centres have been told to suspend bookings for Covid jabs from 29 March as vaccine supply is expected to plummet.  

NHS England said in a letter to vaccination sites yesterday (17 March) that there will be a ‘significant reduction’ in weekly supply of vaccines from manufacturers beginning in the week commencing 29 March.

This means volumes for first doses will be ‘significantly constrained’ and the Government’s vaccine taskforce predict this will continue for four weeks, ‘as a result of reductions in national inbound vaccines supply’, the letter said.

It added: ‘From today, the supply constraint means vaccination centres and community pharmacy-led local vaccination services should close unfilled bookings from the week commencing 29 March and ensure no further appointments are uploaded to the National Booking System or Local Booking Systems from 1 to 30 April.’

NHS England said detailed guidance was being issued directly to providers.

‘From the start of the programme, the NHS has successfully had to adjust week-to-week vaccine delivery in the light of fluctuations in supply,’ the letter said.

‘Our vaccination delivery programme was designed to be flexible, scaled up and diversified in line with fluctuating international vaccine supplies.;

Invites to over 50s

This comes as NHS England also announced yesterday that it is extending invites to book a Covid vaccination to all over 50s – the ninth and final priority cohort of the first phase.

It said that two million text messages will go out from today inviting patients to book with a pharmacy-led service or mass vaccination centre. Text invites will also be received ‘from local booking services through a GP-led team’.

Yesterday’s letter said it was ‘vital’ for services to focus on vaccinating those in cohorts one to nine ‘over this next period’.

‘Now we have opened vaccination to cohorts 1-9, it is very important we focus our efforts on reaching as many of these groups as possible whilst administering second doses. We must take this time to deliver protection to the most vulnerable,’ it said.

The latest Government figures show staff vaccinated 25.3 million people between 8 December and 16 March with first doses of the Pfizer and Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccines.

A total of 1.8m people have also now had their second dose of a Covid vaccine, the Government announced yesterday.