The NHS said there were now an extra 500 vaccination sites compared to April. “There is plenty of capacity,” a spokesman said. “Almost four million people have already received their booster in just four weeks since the rollout began – more than double the rate of the initial rollout in December.”
Amanda Pritchard, the NHS chief executive, told MPs on Tuesday that vaccine uptake was the problem.
“What we are seeing, and this is absolutely the crux, is that whilst it’s great that people are coming forward for their boosters, they are not coming forward as quickly when they receive their invitation as we certainly saw for the first jabs,” she said.
But Jeremy Hunt, a former health secretary, warned that more needed to be done to reach people before the vaccination backlog “creates a real crisis”.
The Government has also been criticised for failing to speed up the vaccination of children. So far, just 15.9 per cent have had their first jab, compared to 47.4 per cent in Scotland.
On Tuesday, the Department for Education estimated that 2.6 per cent of all pupils – around 209,000 children – did not attend class for Covid-related reasons on Thursday last week, up from 2.5 per cent on Sep 30.
Sajid Javid, the Health Secretary, announced on Tuesday that children would now be able to book a jab at a vaccination centre rather than having it through school.