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NHS booking website struggles with demand amid rush to get booster jab to tackle Omicron variant



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THE NHS booking website is being hit by problems today (Monday) as thousands rush to book a Covid booster jab.

Those trying to book a vaccine appointment online are being met with error messages or warnings of long queues as the NHS website struggles to process the numbers taking up the offer of a vaccine.

Households trying to order boxes of lateral flow tests ahead of plans to make close contacts of Covid cases test daily from tomorrow are also experiencing problems trying to request a batch – with some Twitter users reporting the website says it has run out of home test kits and to come back later.

The NHS website is being plagued by problems and thousands rush to book a Covid jab
The NHS website is being plagued by problems and thousands rush to book a Covid jab

The government has started expanding the booster roll-out programme to everyone aged 18 and over in the UK as of today, after Boris Johnson issues a stark warning over the rapid spread of the Omicron variant in a nationwide broadcast on Sunday night.

The Prime Minister has said he intends to have offered a jab to every adult in England by New Year's Eve but warns that routine appointments or some procedures may have to be cancelled to create space in the system.

Patients wanting a third jab – or those who wish to take up the offer of a first or second coronavirus vaccine – should be able to book through the website nhs.uk using their NHS number or personal details.

The government website which arranges deliveries of lateral flow tests say it has run out of supplies
The government website which arranges deliveries of lateral flow tests say it has run out of supplies

But since early this morning error messages warning of 'technical difficulties' are repeatedly appearing on the booking page or people are entering a queue only for the booking system to crash.

At one point shortly before 10am the website said there were more than 10,000 waiting in a virtual queue before the online page timed out.

There are long queues on the website as people try and book an appointment
There are long queues on the website as people try and book an appointment

The information on the site has been updated to welcome everyone over the age of 30 for an online appointment – alternatively walk-in clinics are also available to those over 18 willing and able to stand and wait their turn.

Today's move comes after the target for giving every adult a booster jab was brought forward by a month over fears of a “tidal wave of Omicron” that could cause “very many deaths”.

Anyone aged 30 and over is able to book a booster appointment to get a jab from today, while those aged 18-29 will be able to book a booster from Wednesday.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson recorded an address to the nation at Downing Street. Picture: Kirsty O’Connor/PA
Prime Minister Boris Johnson recorded an address to the nation at Downing Street. Picture: Kirsty O’Connor/PA

The Prime Minister, in a pre-recorded address to the nation yesterday, said Britain “must urgently reinforce our wall of vaccine protection” as he set the new deadline of jabbing everyone over 18 by the new year.

'To hit the pace we need, we’ll need to match the NHS’s best vaccination day so far – and then beat that day after day.'

He said scientists had discovered that two doses of a vaccine is “simply not enough” to prevent the spread of the new variant and that, without a lightning speed mass booster campaign, the NHS could be overwhelmed.

Mr Johnson said: “To hit the pace we need, we’ll need to match the NHS’s best vaccination day so far – and then beat that day after day. This will require an extraordinary effort.

“And as we focus on boosters and make this new target achievable, it will mean some other appointments will need to be postponed until the new year.

“But if we don’t do this now, the wave of Omicron could be so big that cancellations and disruptions, like the loss of cancer appointments, would be even greater next year.”

The mission to administer millions more jabs by December 31 will see 42 military planning teams deployed across every health region.

The Covid vaccination programme is being expanded as the Omicron variant spreads
The Covid vaccination programme is being expanded as the Omicron variant spreads

The highest number of vaccinations reported in one day in the UK was 844,285 on March 20 2021 – equivalent to vaccinating the entire population of Liverpool in one day, according to the government website.



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