Hundreds of UCL students were turned away from a four-hour Covid vaccination clinic after doses ran out.
University College London (UCL) was the first university to set up a walk-in clinic for students who were not registered with a GP.
At the four-hour clinic on Saturday 5 June, jabs ran out after two hours. An estimated 1,000 students showed up, with some camping out on the streets from 5:00 (for a midday start), but the clinic reportedly only had 300 vaccines available.
In communications with its students, UCL advised that vaccinations would be offered “on a first-come, first-served basis”, and recommended that students “arrive early, as only a limited number of vaccinations are available on the day”.
A number of students complained that the university “set completely unrealistic expectations” by “announcing this to over 40,000 students and claiming the vaccination will go on for four hours”.
There were reports of queue cutting, overcrowding, and “the police coming in and out” because they were “annoyed about how many people” were there.
Our initial push was to get the student population from around here who aren’t registered with a GP, because we had no way of contacting them
– Ammara Hughes
Ammara Hughes, the GP in charge of managing the programme, said that she had not anticipated the scale of demand.
Speaking to The Telegraph, she said: “Our initial push was to get the student population from around here who aren’t registered with a GP, because we had no way of contacting them.
“So that’s what we asked, we worked with our local universities to say, ‘We’ll run a walk-in clinic for that group’. And then all of a sudden, everybody found out about the vaccine.
“Obviously, we have a limit as to how many appointments we can give them in one day. Our priority was people who did not already have a GP: people who we wouldn’t be able to contact with an invite for a vaccine.
“I think we’ve vaccinated about 600, 700 people today. We’d left about 450 for walk-ins, because of what the university had initially told us, we might get a couple of hundred. And all of a sudden, we had a fair few thousand people.”
A spokesperson for UCL said: “We’re proud of our students and their commitment to protecting themselves and others by getting a Covid vaccination.
“This opportunity was offered to us by the NHS and we promoted it in good faith. We made it very clear that vaccinations were available on a first come, first served basis.
“The day was good-humoured and well marshalled, with students showing tremendous support for each other for getting vaccinated.
“We are grateful to the Bloomsbury Surgery, who are now looking at opportunities to accommodate more students to be vaccinated in the coming weeks.”