Warnings that Whatsapp messages inviting people to sign up for COVID vaccinations were fakes have turned out to be wrong, following reassurances that the messages were unauthorised but nevertheless sent in good faith.
Redbridge Council leader Jas Athwal warned of the messages, but the NHS commissioning groups which organise the vaccination programmes have tweeted clarifications that the messages were not in fact fraudulent.
Apologies to @jas_athwal and residents for confusion over incorrect vaccine distribution messages posted on WhatsApp. Done in good faith, but not NHS approved. Cllr you acted under our advice to ensure vaccines are distributed fairly & we’re sorry you’ve been criticised unfairly.— BHR_CCGs – Stay alert to saves lives (@BHR_CCGs) January 16, 2021
In fact at least one Wansteadium reader, Mary, commented on our original post that she had responded to a similar Whatsapp message and successfully received a vaccination as a result.
I replied with my relevant info. I was given an appointment for today by HealthDirect (our local primary care health network). I went to Hawkey Hall and was in the system . I had a vaccination and it was all very efficient and indeed terrific. It may not have been authorised by Redbridge CCG but several hundred doses have not been wasted.
The incident does highlight the difficulties of knowing exactly where messages received on various platforms are coming from, and whether or not they are legitimate. The government’s National Cyber Security Centre has issued this leaflet, pictured below, with some specific guidance on spotting scams relating to COVID-19.