Chesterfield were accused of ‘queue-jumping’ and ‘immoral’ behaviour on Wednesday night after several of their players and staff received the Covid jab.
Players as young as 21 at the National League club were given the vaccine, which is currently meant to be for the over-70s, a Daily Mail investigation has found.
Medical staff at the club, including the doctor, were not told about the plan to vaccinate and were said to be ‘horrified’ when they found out.
Chesterfield have been criticised for handing-out Covid-19 vaccines to players and staff
The club acquired leftover vaccines – meant for over-70s – from a nearby medical centre
The players and staff received leftover Pfizer vaccines at a medical centre close to Chesterfield after being called late in the day after scheduled patients did not turn up.
NHS England guidance is that, while vaccines should not be wasted, they should be given to those in the priority cohort — those over 70 and clinically extremely vulnerable individuals.
A source associated with the club said: ‘The decision was taken by the club after being approached by a volunteer at the medical centre to get them on the list. The players had no real choice because they have to do what they are told. The club doctor and head physio weren’t told and were horrified when they discovered.
‘In my view it’s totally immoral and appears like queue-jumping. These are fit and healthy people who should not be vaccinated at this time when others more badly in need should be getting them. Even within the club there are older people who should have got them first.
‘It gives them a clear competitive advantage as it effectively makes them bombproof from the virus, while other clubs in the League will still have key players coming down with it.’
The National League side have been criticised for wheeling-out vaccines to players under-21
A club spokesman said: ‘A small number of Chesterfield players and staff — most of whom are classed as vulnerable people — have received the Covid-19 vaccine.
‘In line with the NHS directive, that doctors and staff have the discretion to ensure that they can make full use of any unused vaccines rather than have any go to waste, the people concerned were called at very short notice to receive the vaccine after the surgery had exhausted all other viable options.’
Former Chesterfield secretary Ashley Carson branded it ‘disgraceful’.
He said: ‘To take vaccines away from the prioritised groups and frontline NHS staff seems deplorable in favour of fit and healthy professional sportsmen.’
On Wednesday night the NHS announced it was investigating and said it was ‘unacceptable’ to jump the Covid vaccine queue.
A spokesperson for NHS Derby and Derbyshire Clinical Commissioning Group said: ‘We began investigating this issue with the practice involved as soon as it was brought to our attention.
‘Is It is unacceptable to jump the queue ahead of people most at risk of Covid-19 and the NHS guidance is clear that local vaccination services must manage their appointment lists to ensure all appointments are filled and they have a back-up list of high risk people in Joint Committee on Vaccination and Drug Immunisation priority groups 1-4 [those aged 70 and over or who are clinically extremely vulnerable] who can receive the vaccine at short notice.’