Covid vaccine queue jumpers branded 'morally reprehensible'

21 January 2021, 19:11 | Updated: 21 January 2021, 19:56

By Megan White

People who attempt to jump the queue for a coronavirus vaccine have been branded "morally reprehensible" by a top doctor and Home Secretary Priti Patel.

According to the Evening Standard, links to the Swiftqueue system used to book jabs for NHS staff were being shared online, allowing people who were not yet eligible for the vaccine to get an appointment.

The paper said it had seen evidence that people who were not on the vaccine priority list had accessed the portal and booked appointments in east London and parts of the north.

Read more: New £800 fines for those attending house parties from next week, Priti Patel announces

Dr Vin Diwakar, NHS England regional medical director for London, said it was "morally reprehensible" for people to try and "jump the queue" for a vaccine.

Home Secretary Priti Patel repeated Dr Diwakar's rebuke of those skipping the vaccine queue, and said "those individuals are putting the lives of vulnerable people at risk."

Dr Diwakar told a Downing Street press conference: "People are being called in priority order so that we can vaccinate those most at risk of serious illness first.

"That is why I was horrified to hear reports that some unscrupulous people have used links shared with them to try and falsely book a vaccination appointment.

"To seek to do this is denying some of the most vulnerable people in our community a life-saving vaccine.

"Let me be really clear about this: it is morally reprehensible to try and jump the queue and anyone who books to get the vaccine fraudulently will be turned away."

It came after the senior minister was asked whether the Government was considering bringing in fines for those looking to secure a jab before they are called for one.

The Home Secretary added: "With regards to the queue jumping, as you put it, around the vaccine, I completely echo the words of Dr Diwakar.

"Quite frankly it is morally reprehensible because these individuals are putting the lives of vulnerable people at risk - the most vulnerable who have been prioritised by the Government to receive the vaccine because they are vulnerable in that they are susceptible not only to contracting the virus but could die from this deadly, deadly virus.

"As I've always said, as we say as a Government as well, all our measures are under review.

"But quite frankly right now our world-class, world-leading vaccine roll-out programme is there for the most vulnerable people - we've prioritised our cohorts and our groups - and our focus is on getting that vaccine to the most vulnerable to make sure we protect them and obviously protect others in the community as well."

The Prime Minister's official spokesman said measures were in place to prevent people getting the vaccine as a result of making a "false online declaration".

"Nobody should be seeking to queue-jump, we have set out why we are prioritising those we are, given the increased risk that those groups face," the spokesman said.

"It is important that we provide protection to those who are most at clinical risk."