HEALTH bosses have ordered a GP surgery to backtrack on its advice after patients were told to stop phoning to book Covid-19 vaccines.

The Shoebury Health Centre, on Campfield Road, took to social media to urge patients to wait until they are contacted and not to “clog phone lines”.

But Southend clinical commissioning group has now contacted the surgery to “clarify” the situation, insisting that elderly residents still waiting should contact the surgery directly.

NHS guidance has changed in recent weeks, with those aged over 60 told to contact the NHS if they haven’t already been contacted.

While health bosses insisted there was “no shortage of vaccines in Southend”.

A spokesman from the health centre posted on Facebook saying: “We know lots of people will be eager to get protected but we are asking people not to contact us to get an appointment as you will not be able to get one until you are contacted.

“This is due to there only being a limited number of vaccines delivered to our primary care network at one time.

“These are shared across all practices in our locality so we asking everyone to please be patient.”

This comes as 89 per cent of over 70-year-olds in Southend have had their first dose of the Covid vaccine.

This is the lowest number in south Essex, compared to 92.5 per cent in Basildon and Brentwood, and 94.5 per cent in Castle Point and Rochford.

Trevor Harp, councillor in charge of health and social care, added: “This doesn’t mean there is a shortage of vaccines.

“I understand why the GP is saying that, they only have a finite number of phone lines. People may be clogging up the lines, stopping other patients phoning for usual appointments.

“Those who want to phone for a jab can ring the NHS for an appointment at a mass vaccination centre.”

A spokesman for the Southend CCG, said: “For patients in cohorts one to four, the latest advice is to contact the NHS directly if they haven’t had a vaccine. We have clarified this with the practice and asked them to make this clear in future communications to avoid any unnecessary anxiety for people awaiting vaccination”.