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Ineligible COVID vaccine candidates jump jab queue through IT loophole

Jeanne Peters, 95, a rehab patient at The Reservoir, a nursing facility, was given the first COVID-19 vaccination in a Ct. nursing home Friday, Dec. 18, 2020, in West Hartford, Conn. Administering the vaccine is Mary Lou Galushko, a CVS pharmacist form North Haven,left. At rear is Bob Atighechi, a CVS pharmacist from Rocky Hill. (AP Photo/Stephen Dunn,POOL)
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Covid vaccinations meant to protect the vulnerable and NHS health workers in the UK have gone to ineligible people due to an IT loophole, an Evening Standard investigation reported this week.

People who are not yet eligible for the Covid vaccine have managed to jump the queue by signing up through links that are being shared on WhatsApp and social media. The links are coming from an online booking system by Swiftqueue, which is meant for certain NHS trusts to coordinate vaccine appointments for staff.

“The website allowed anyone to book a vaccine over the age of 18 and regardless of eligibility,” said the news report.

The Standard reported that it has seen evidence that people who are not staff or on the vaccine priority list have managed to use the portal to secure Covid jabs in east London and parts of the north.

The newspaper tested to see if the loophole had been rendered. Journalists were able to use the link to book an appointment for 09.50am on Wednesday with the follow up jab scheduled for the same time on April 5 at the Westfield vaccination centre in Stratford.

“The booking took less than five minutes with name, postcode, NHS number along with a checklist on basic health information,” said the newspaper.

What is the source of the leaked link?

A weblink meant solely for staff at the East London NHS Foundation Trust [ELFT] was shared outside the mental health trust’s community. The Standard has reported that ELFT is aware of the problem and people are now being asked for ID when they come for a jab to verify their eligibility.

US has witnessed first-come-first-served queues

In the US, which has a largely privatised healthcare system, has seen people line up in their cars overnight to get the COVID jab being offered at stadium carparks. The first-come-first-served approach witnessed in some US states, such as Florida, has its limitations and challenges.

In the first week of January, The Florida Department of Health announced it would start vaccinating anyone ages 65 and older for free.

Earlier this month, Volusia County city officials in the US state of Florida had to take control of congestion after long lines formed. Officials then clamped down and only allowed people 65 and over who hope to get a COVID vaccine to camp inside Daytona Stadium.

A News-Journal reporter drove by the stadium one evening and reported seeing about 200 cars in the facility.

The gates of the stadium opened at 7 p.m., and once 1,000 people enter — that’s the number of vaccines available — the stadium’s gates closed.

Local residents in the city of Daytona Beach have reported seeing out-of-state holidaymakers joining the jab queues. However, this week only those that can certify they are a resident of the sunshine state will be able to be vaccinated at Volusia County appointments.  County leaders claim they will require for a Florida driver’s license or a utility bill for a Florida property in their name, said a local news report. 

Much of the elderly in the sunshine state say they are in no condition to wait in their cars for hours and sometimes overnight to receive a jab. Many are waiting, even those over 85, for a letter to arrive from their physicians to arrange a jab either in a clinic or a pharmacy, once available.

US pharmacies to administer millions of shots

National pharmacy chain CVS reported that they are not yet providing COVID vaccines at the time of writing. “Once vaccines are available to the general public, anticipated to be in early 2021, we will begin offering them in our nearly 10,000 CVS Pharmacy locations nationwide. We expect to be able to administer as many as 20-25 million shots per month,” said CVS.

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