‘1,000’ UCL students queued up for only 300 vaccines at the Bloomsbury Clinic
‘It’s honestly difficult to believe that UCL would make such a gross estimation error’
On Saturday 5th June the Bloomsbury Clinic offered UCL Students a free Pfizer Covid-19 vaccination at their clinic. An estimated 1,000 students showed up just to find out that the clinic reportedly only had 300 vaccines available.
In UCL’s original announcement to students, the number of available vaccines was not specified. UCL did later add to their announcement that the vaccination 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.”
The majority of students who queued up outside the Bloomsbury Clinic in hopes of being vaccinated were turned away. One student who was turned away after arriving at 9:30am and queuing “for over three hours” told The Tab that it “feels ridiculous that this was published to the whole of UCL with such a small amount of doses available – the lack of information and organisation as time went on made it a pretty stressful and disappointing situation.”
The lack of clarity provided by UCL has frustrated many, as the university “set completely unrealistic expectations” by “announcing this to over 40,000 students and claiming the vaccinations will go on for four hours” making it seem as though it was going to be a large-scale event.
A lack of organisation was also highlighted by many students, with reports of queue cutting, overcrowding and “the police coming in and out” of the building, appearing “annoyed about how many people” were there.
Many students were confused as to how the clinic “could’ve estimated the vaccinations would run from 12.00 to 4.00pm” and then run out so early on.
Student Lilac said: “There were quite a few journalists on site too, who were there before noon, but they had all disappeared by the time we were all turned away. The pictures of us taken during the queue are on The Telegraph; they’ve made it seem like such a massive event when in reality almost everyone in those pictures got turned away.
“Honestly I find it hard to believe that it was just an accident. I just don’t get how you can promise that the vaccinations will go on for that long and then run out 30 minutes in. I can’t help but feel like they made it into such a big event for publicity when in reality they knew they only had a handful of doses available.”
Nadine, another UCL student, joined the queue at 9.00am and received the 220th vaccination ticket. According to Nadine, there was a lot of confusion when she arrived “because intercollegiate students and UCL students had received different emails and were therefore unsure whether to queue separately.
“There were no volunteers monitoring the queue so it was completely up to the students to figure out how to effectively loop it round the area. This led to the end of the queue constantly getting confused with the start of the queue” and some people who had just arrived went straight to the beginning.
“No information about the number of vaccines was given and when I asked how many were left to inform people behind us, I was told people could sneak forward if they really wanted it and that they couldn’t give an exact number. I was then given a ticket to come back at 2.00pm along with over 100 other students and queue for a further two hours, as those registered with the GP had priority.”
Like many students, Nadine noted that the clinic was “managed really ineffectively”, leading to “many students missing out on a ticket after being skipped due to issues within the queue, and also not being told the number of vaccines or how realistic their chances were.”
UCL only announced that the vaccination clinic at The Bloomsbury Surgery was at capacity around 3.00pm, over two hours after students began to be sent away.
The Tab London reached out to UCL for comment on the situation. UCL re-shared their announcement of the availability of vaccines, and 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.”
Clearly, a lot of students were left feeling disappointed and misinformed after the events of Saturday. Young people want to be vaccinated, and are willing to queue for hours in the sun to get one.
The Tab London will continue to report on upcoming vaccination clinics and opportunities for students to receive their vaccine early.