A temporary halt for first jabs at the mass vaccination centres in Kent and Medway, including the Saga building in Thanet, will take place during April due to a shortage in vaccine supplies.
A memo from the NHS last week warned that there would be a “significant reduction” in AstraZeneca vaccines after March 29. The shortage is forecast to last three to four weeks.
In a statement to the House of Commons last week Health Secretary Matt Hancock said the shortage was due a delay in a scheduled arrival from the Serum Institute as well as the need to retest a 1.7 million-dose batch.
As a result mass vaccination centres and pharmacy-led services across the country have been asked to close unfilled vaccine appointment bookings from March 29 but GPs will keep bookings open for both first and second doses.
Mr Hancock said: ““There will be no weeks in April with no first doses. There will be no cancelled appointments as a result of supply issues. Second doses will go ahead as planned.”
The Prime Minister has confirmed that Government has procured enough “second doses that people need within the 12 week window…and we will still offer a first dose to every adult by the end of July”.
The first vaccines from manufacturer Moderna are expected to arrive in the UK in April. This vaccination received UK authorisation in January.
Pulse Today reported that a letter from the NHS to GPs said: “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.”
The government has insisted that all over 50s will receive a jab by April 15 and all adults by July 31.
Kent Community Health Trust oversees operations at all of Kent and Medway mass vaccination centres.
A spokesperson for NHS Kent and Medway Clinical Commissioning Group said: “The NHS vaccination programme continues to make strong progress across Kent and Medway vaccinating over 800,000 people.
“In line with available supply, our vaccination centres will continue to offer appointments for second doses and GPs will continue to contact eligible patients for vaccinations throughout April.”
Messaging from the community health trust says: there will be limited appointments for first doses at the large vaccination centres throughout April.