The NHS released new information explaining that there would be a vaccine shortage in the UK from 29 March, meaning under-50s will wait longer for their first jab as second doses are given to the most vulnerable cohorts
Those aged 49 and younger are now expected to receive their first jab in May.
Until that day, vaccine availability is expected to go up from where it was last week – meaning this two week window will see more as many doses administered as possible. This means that second doses will be prioritised over first doses in April.
The Department for Health and Social care said in a statement that “we remain on track to offer a first vaccine to over 50s by 15 April and all adults by 31 July.”
However, those under-50 with medical condition should still come forward and register for the first dose. Over 25 million people in the UK have now been given their first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine.
Will your appointment be cancelled?
If you have booked an appointment and been confirmed, that will still happen. If you are trying to book for April, those bookings are no longer available unless you are medically vulnerable or going for your second dose.
Why is there a vaccine shortage in the UK?
According to The BBC’s Laura Kuenssberg, the Government became aware of the shortage only in the last 48 hours.
The vaccine shortage issue for AstraZeneca doses appears to be connected to a larger problem in the international supply chain, which is apparently impacting every batch of vaccines apart from Pfizer. There is speculation that 10 million doses manufactured in India are the cause of this shortfall.
Currently, AstraZeneca is 75% of the vaccines that have been given out so far – meaning any loss of availability will create a bigger impact than if Pfizer deliveries had been delayed.
Some expected vaccine deliveries from AstraZeneca have therefore fallen through, meaning that the UK will have less doses available from 29 March.
Yesterday, the EU said that Pfizer vaccines manufactured in Europe could be withheld from the UK if the expected deliveries of AstraZeneca were not received. This comes after two months of tension between the UK drugmaker and EU leaders, who will be receiving 60% less AstraZeneca vaccines than they ordered for Spring.