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Covid jab booking system bug leads to appointments for ineligible patients

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It is understood more than 100 people were able to book an appointment at one of Northern Ireland's vaccination centres despite not being in one of the priority groups

It is understood more than 100 people were able to book an appointment at one of Northern Ireland's vaccination centres despite not being in one of the priority groups

It is understood more than 100 people were able to book an appointment at one of Northern Ireland's vaccination centres despite not being in one of the priority groups

Health officials are in the process of cancelling appointments of people not eligible for the Covid-19 vaccine after a problem with the online booking system, it has emerged.

It is understood more than 100 people were able to book an appointment at one of Northern Ireland's vaccination centres despite not being in one of the priority groups.

The issue occurred on Tuesday, with the system taken offline later in the day as officials scrambled to resolve the problem.

A spokesman from the Department of Health last night said: "Yesterday, some members of the public in Northern Ireland, who are not yet eligible to receive a Covid vaccine, were able to make an appointment.

"This was a result of an issue with the system's eligibility checker and we are looking into the circumstances that allowed this, but we want to clarify that such appointments are being cancelled.

"Ineligible appointments will, in any event, be turned away at the vaccination centre through checks that apply there.

"Our thanks go to the vast majority of people who are using our services properly."

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DUP MLA Jonathan Buckley, a member of the Stormont health committee, welcomed the checks that are in place to stop ineligible people getting a jab but said abuse of the system means slots are being wasted.

He said: "I want to put on record my thanks to everyone who has been involved in the vaccination programme, which has been running extremely well to date.

"This has meant that there is an awful lot of excitement among people about getting the vaccine but I would just remind everyone to be patient, to wait until their turn, to ensure that those who are most at risk get their vaccine as quickly as possible."

Earlier in the week, the Department of Health said it is aware of people abusing the system by booking appointments when they are not yet eligible for a vaccine.

Patricia Donnelly, who heads up the programme, said they are seeing an increasing number of ineligible people, including people from the Republic of Ireland, trying to book an appointment at a vaccination centre.

Vaccinations are only available to people who meet specific criteria, including anyone who is 50 and above, healthcare workers, care home staff or residents, people who are clinically extremely vulnerable and the homeless community.

Everyone attending an appointment at a vaccination centre must provide proof they are eligible.


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