Posted: 09.01.21 at 12:53 by Daniel Mumby - Local Democracy Reporter
Cheddar residents should be on their guard against a new text scam as they wait for their coronavirus vaccine.
Devon, Somerset and Torbay Trading Standards has issued a warning about fake texts which could lead to people’s bank details being stolen.
Fraud experts and the police have warned the scam is “very convincing” and urges anyone who may have been a victim to contact their local Citizens’ Advice.
This warning comes as the Somerset Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) prepares to expand its roll-out of the vaccine through GP surgeries.
The new scam involves fraudsters sending out texts to individuals offering them a coronavirus vaccine, with a link directing them to a fake NHS website.
The scam message reads: “We have identified that you are eligible to apply for your vaccine”, with the link encouraging people to “apply” for their vaccine.
Once on the website, people are asked to input their bank details to register for a vaccine.
A spokesman for trading standards said: “If you receive a text or email that asks you to click on a link or for you to provide information, such as your name, credit card or bank details, delete it immediately.
“Remember, the NHS will never ask for your payment details.”
Both the Pfizer Biotech and the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccines will be given in Somerset, with the CCG slowly expanding the number of places where people can receive their jabs.
The vaccines are currently being offered at 12 sites – hospital hubs at both Musgrove Park Hospital and Yeovil Hospital, and a further ten GP-led community sites.
Teams of vaccinators are also visiting care homes to ensure that all Somerset residents aged 80 and over are prioritised, along with all front-line health and social care workers.
Andy Heron, the CCG’s joint senior responsible officer for the Somerset Covid-19 vaccination programme, said: “The vaccination programme in Somerset has ramped up very quickly and will continue to do so to ensure that we protect as many people whom the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation has identified as a priority to receive the vaccine as possible.
“Teams of clinicians, managers, administrators and volunteers from the NHS in Somerset, Somerset County Council and the voluntary sector are all working together to make this happen as quickly as possible.”
The government’s joint committee has identified the highest priority groups – meaning people will be contacted directly when it is their turn for the vaccine.
The more recent site to offer the vaccine is The Meadows Surgery on Canal Way in Ilminster, which is part of the CLICK primary care network of seven GP surgeries.
Musgrove Park Hospital in Taunton will begin offering vaccinations to priority individuals this weekend and will thereafter operate a vaccination hub seven days a week.
Kate Allen, general outpatients’ sister for Somerset NHS Foundation Trust, said: “We’re looking forward to playing our part in the largest vaccination programme that the NHS has ever undertaken.
“The addition of a second hospital hub in Somerset means that we can protect more people who are in the most at-risk groups against Covid-19.
“Our colleagues have been working incredibly hard to get the hub up and running and we look forward to seeing those who have had their invitation for a vaccine over the coming weeks.”
Dr Alex Murray, the CCG’s clinical director, said: “We welcome the approval of the Oxford/ AstraZeneca vaccine last week, as it will help us to increase the number of people we can invite for vaccinations from the priority groups identified.
“However, local people can be confident that both vaccines are very effective and have been approved because they pass the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency’s (MHRA) tests on safety and efficacy.
“People should be assured that whatever vaccine they get will be highly effective and protect them from coronavirus.”
People are reminded that they will be contacted by the NHS directly to arrange a vaccination appointment.
Please do not contact the NHS directly or visit any of the 12 sites in Somerset to ask about the vaccine.
When you have been contacted, please attend your booked appointments, and continue to follow all the guidance to control the spread of the virus and save lives.