‘There should be no case’ where lack of digital access presents vaccination barrier – vaccines minister

Nadhim Zahawi pledges that multiple routes will be maintain for contact and bookings

Credit: Owen Humphreys/PA Wire/PA Images

The government’s vaccine minister has pledged that not a single patient should have difficulties obtaining a vaccination because of lack of access to digital platforms.

It was only last month that formal non-digital routes for booking a coronavirus test were opened, when the government announced that, in addition to booking online, citizens can now call the NHS Test and Trace service on 119 and arrange for a test kit to be sent to their home.

But, according to the minister for Covid vaccine deployment Nadhim Zahawi, the programme to inoculate the UK population has made sure to include non-digital means of access from the start.

Asked in a written parliamentary question from Labour MP Kerry McCarthy “what steps he has taken to ensure that people who are digitally excluded are included in the Covid-19 vaccination programme”, Zahawi claimed that citizens without devices or internet connections will not miss out.

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“There should be no case where a patient would only be offered an invitation via digital means, or where the only way to book would be online,” he said. “Invitations for the vaccines are currently being issued in a number of ways. The National Booking Service is primarily sending invitation letters to people’s registered addresses. These letters, sent in size 16 font as standard as defined by RNIB as large print, give the option of booking online, or by the free 119 phone line. This phone line includes BSL and text relay services. Others can make an appointment on behalf of individuals who are not able to make it themselves.”

The minister added that, in cases where a citizen has not responded to their vaccination invitation letter “follow-up phone calls and letters” are sent.

The latest government data indicates that, as of Monday, 28.3 million people across the UK have received their first dose of a coronavirus vaccine, with 2.4 million having also received their second dose. The number of vaccinations taking place each day has reached as high as 740,000, and the rolling weekly average has typically been 400,000 per day or higher.


Sam Trendall

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