An unvaccinated pensioner followed Matt Hancock’s advice and called his local jab clinic to get an appointment — only to be told they had run out.
Paul Hardy, 70, from Barnard Castle in County Durham, said when he eventually got through the receptionist declared she wanted to ‘wring’ Mr Hancock’s neck.
‘She said, ‘Well I could wring his neck because we’ve been inundated with calls and we don’t have any vaccine’,’ Mr Hardy told MailOnline.
He has now secured himself and his wife Jances, 71, an appointment for their first dose of the vaccine on Saturday. But he is worried supplies were being unevenly distributed across the country because no centres should be facing shortages of jabs.
Mr Hancock urged all over-70s that hadn’t already been invited for their first dose to ring their GP surgeries on Monday.
But the Department of Health today insisted he was just ‘repeating’ the request from the NHS, which is managing the rollout, and its medical director for primary care Dr Nikki Kanani.
It comes after a think-tank called on Boris Johnson to pick up the pace of the UK’s vaccine roll-out amid fears it had ‘hit a wall’ at 350,000 jabs-a-day.
Boris Johnson is aiming to inoculate 15million of the most at risk — over-70s, care home residents, the vulnerable and NHS workers — by February 15.
Paul Hardy, 70, from County Durham, said when he eventually got through to his local vaccination clinic the receptionist said she wanted to ‘wring’ Mr Hancock’s neck.
Mr Hardy managed to secure an appointment for himself and wife Jances, 71, for Saturday
WORLD’S COVID WOULD FIT IN HALF A COKE CAN, EXPERT
Every single cell of SARS-CoV-2, the virus causing Covid-19, would fit into one can of Coke, a British mathematician has calculated.
Covid-19 has so far infected at least 106million people worldwide and killed more than 2.3 million of these cases.
But the virus itself is tiny, measuring just 100 nanometers, or 100 billionths of a meter, across — 1,000 times thinner than a human hair.
Bath University maths lecturer Dr Kit Yates crunched the numbers and came to the conclusion that if all the coronavirus cells were piled on top of one another, the pile would be equivalent to 160ml of liquid.
One can of pop in the UK contains 330ml.
Mr Hardy told MailOnline: ‘Mr Hancock said that up until now they’d been asking people to wait until they were invited for a vaccine – but now they want us to take the initiative and phone up to get one.
‘I called my surgery straight away and the receptionist was a bit perturbed because everyone was trying and make an appointment for a jab.
‘She said, “Actually we don’t have any vaccines available and you shouldn’t be phoning the surgery anyway”.
‘I said to her, “That’s what Mr Hancock has told people to do”.
‘She said, “Well I could wring his neck because we’ve been inundated with calls and we don’t have any vaccine. She booked me in for an appointment on Saturday”.’
Mr Hardy added: ‘My concern is that no one should be running out anywhere in the country.
‘We should be on track to give people their injections as soon as their group becomes eligible.
‘I don’t think central government is aware what’s happening at the coal face.’
The Department of Health insisted to MailOnline Mr Hancock had only been ‘repeating’ what Dr Kanani called for at the press conference.
Mr Hancock said on Monday: ‘From today, I have a message for everyone aged 70 and above. Until now, we’ve said please wait for the NHS to contact you. But now that message is changing.
‘If you live in England and are 70 and over and have not yet got an appointment to be vaccinated, then please contact the NHS.
‘The easiest way to do this is through the national booking service online at NHS.uk or if you cant get online then you can call 119 or you can speak to your local GP practice.’
The Government is aiming to vaccinate the top four priority groups – including NHS workers – by mid-February. Above is a woman receiving her vaccine in Cwmbran, Wales
It comes as critics today called on the Prime Minister not to get complacent in Britain’s vaccines rollout, as the latest figures suggested the drive has plateaued.
The number of doses given to Brits on Monday rose by just one per cent compared to the same time last week, hovering at around 350,000, data from the Department of Health showed.
The Adam Smith Institute think-tank told MailOnline that while the programme had been a success so far, there was ‘no excuse’ for blips, because ‘the virus doesn’t sleep – the virus keeps spreading’.
Despite concerns, Britain is within touching distance of delivering on its goal of vaccinating 15million of the most vulnerable by mid-February, which paves the way for the UK become one of the first countries to drop lockdowns completely.
James Lawson, author of a the study Worth a Shot: Accelerating Covid-19 Vaccinations, and fellow at think-tank the Adam Smith Institute, today urged ministers not to be complacent because of early success.
‘While the Government has made significant progress since January in boosting the amount of daily doses we can’t be complacent,’ he told MailOnline.
‘We need to keep up the pace, keep accelerating and ultimately should be aiming to even double or triple the number of doses that we are doing compared with today.
‘There is ultimately no excuse for slowing down. We can’t use the excuse of weekends and weather because ultimately the virus doesn’t stop for weekends, the virus doesn’t sleep – the virus keeps spreading so we do need to accelerate.’