Councillor Judith Grajewski, Hampshire County Council’s Executive Member for Public Health said: “The vaccine is a vital tool in our fight against COVID-19 and a safe and effective way to protect ourselves, our loved ones and our communities. Sadly, there have been cases reported of dishonest individuals approaching members of the public to offer vaccines in return for payment. Therefore, we want to remind everyone that the COVID-19 vaccine is free of charge and that the NHS will get in touch when it is your turn to receive it.
“If you’re contacted by anyone claiming to be from the NHS who asks for payment or a fee - or who gives you a link to a website to take payment for the vaccine - it is a scam.
“No-one from the NHS would come and knock on your door unannounced and you would not receive emails inviting you to click on links. If anyone approaches you in this way, or attempts to force or coerce you into handing over funds – in person or otherwise – always contact the police.”
Those most at risk of being targeted by scammers are the elderly, as well as those who live alone, are self-isolating or are in financial difficulty. Many scammers are using increasingly sophisticated methods to target people.
Councillor Grajewski added: “I completely understand that many people are keen to get their jab as soon as possible, but please remember the COVID-19 vaccine is only available from the NHS. No-one can pay for it and jump the queue. If a private organisation contacts you suggesting they can provide the vaccine, it will be a scam.”
The NHS are currently prioritising people most at risk from the ill effects of coronavirus to receive the vaccine. However, all eligible adults will eventually be offered the vaccine.
Dr Barbara Rushton, Clinical Chair - South Eastern Hampshire, at the Hampshire and Isle of Wight Partnership of Clinical Commissioning Groups said: “When it is the right time, you will be contacted to make an appointment. Most of us will receive a letter either from our GP or the national booking system, which will include all the information you need. Some services are currently also phoning and texting patients to invite them in. We are working as quickly as we can to vaccinate our communities and thank residents for their patience during this huge national undertaking. We will be in contact in due course, so there is no need to contact your GP surgery to request the vaccine or check if you will be invited.”
Councillor Grajewski continued: “If you would like to know more about the vaccination, it is best to avoid unreliable sources, whether that’s on the internet, from social media, or from a well-meaning friend. Misinformation can create all kinds of worries and concerns and scammers are trying to take advantage of people’s uncertainty and anxieties about the pandemic. The most up-to-date and validated information will be from official sources such as the Government and NHS websites.”
Other coronavirus-related scams include:
- Sales of fake products such as face coverings, supplements, anti-virus kits and sanitisers, which may be harmful or never arrive
- Bogus healthcare workers who try to gain access to your home by claiming to offer testing for COVID-19
- People pretending to be from charities offering to do shopping or carry out cleaning tasks
- Emails asking for donations to the NHS (spelling and punctuation errors in the text and unusual email sender details are a clue that the email is fake)
Information about the COVID-19 vaccination programme is available on the NHS website.
If you believe you are the victim of a fraud, please report this to Action Fraud as soon as possible by calling 0300 123 2040 or visiting www.actionfraud.police.uk