A rising number of queue-jumpers are posing as care or health workers to get their Covid-19 vaccine, with ‘dozens’ being turned away at several centres in south London.
A number of vaccination centres have said they’ve had multiple people falsely claim they are social care or front-line healthcare workers, with one pharmacist in the capital saying they are “having to police” bookings.
“That’s not a nice place to be, we’re not the police,”said the south London pharmacist.
Officials say they fear a spike in fraudulent bookings ahead of a small drought in vaccine supplies in April which will slow down the rollout.
Bhaveen Patel, who runs a vaccination clinic in Brixton, south London told The Sunday Times that he turns away at least 15 bogus applicants every day.
He said: “We’re getting a lot more people claiming to be unpaid carers now.
“We’ve had to call the police a few times because of it. We’ve had people shouting, screaming, swearing.”
He added: “The checking of ID should be done at the website stage.”
Pharmacist Ash Soni, who is on the English Pharmacy Board and leads a Covid-19 vaccination clinic in south London, told the BBC: “We’re definitely seeing cases where people are using the national booking form, who have lied on their booking form, and we’re having to police that and that’s not a nice place to be. We’re not the police.
“From our point of view it would be much better if, through either the national booking system or when people ring 119, there were ways that this is checked and we are sure when people come they have met the criteria.
“Then, all I have to worry about is making sure they’re comfortable, confident and they’re clinically appropriate for me to vaccinate.”
Mr Soni added that some people have become aggressive if they are refused a coronavirus jab because they cannot prove their profession.
“I know colleagues in other places who say they have had to call the police on occasions to get them to leave,” he added.
Anyone can book an appointment to be vaccinated as a health care worker by ticking certain boxes, but NHS England stresses that those who arrive at vaccination centres without ‘official proof’ will be turned away.
But even when those cheating the system are caught, vaccination slots which could have gone to entitled people are wasted.
Labour’s Baroness Thornton has also warned of a rise in the number of vaccine “queue jumpers” with people posing as health or care workers to “cheat their way to an early jab”.