People celebrate being able to book booster jabs with NO queues 1

People celebrate being able to book booster jabs with NO queues

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The NHS website finally appeared to be coping with demand for boosters this morning as Britons were able to go straight through a book one without queueing.

The system has creaked under huge demand from hundreds of thousands of people trying to book a third jab since Boris Johnson’s TV appeal on Sunday night.

The trouble peaked on Monday when many Britons could not even get into the queueing system – and, when they did, they were kicked out halfway through.

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Problems reduced on Tuesday and Wednesday when people found themselves waiting in a queue of around five minutes before being offered an appointment.

But this morning there was no queue at all, one day after the system was opened up to all adults and three days after those aged 30 or over were permitted to book.

However the website still had an ‘important’ warning note to people, saying: ‘This service is currently facing extremely high demand and is now operating a queueing system. If you’re unable to book now, please try again later today or tomorrow.’

This morning there was no queue at all on the NHS booking website for booking a booster vaccination, with people able to click straight through to this page without waiting

This morning there was no queue at all on the NHS booking website for booking a booster vaccination, with people able to click straight through to this page without waiting

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The website said it was 'facing extremely high demand' but people could click straight through

The website said it was ‘facing extremely high demand’ but people could click straight through

People queue at a Covid-19 vaccination centre at the Science Museum in London yesterday

People queue at a Covid-19 vaccination centre at the Science Museum in London yesterday

Soldiers from the Corps of the Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers give Melanie Hughes from Chester her Covid booster at a vaccination centre at Chester Cathedral yesterday

Soldiers from the Corps of the Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers give Melanie Hughes from Chester her Covid booster at a vaccination centre at Chester Cathedral yesterday

A record 656,711 booster and third doses of Covid-19 vaccine were reported in the UK on Tuesday – beating the previous record which was 550,253 doses on Saturday.

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A total of 24.7million booster and third doses have now been delivered in the UK, with 3.4million in the seven days to Tuesday, according to health agency figures.

How do you book a booster jab in England? 

What is a booster jab?

A booster jab is the third coronavirus vaccine, and is available to those who have had their first and second doses.

Can you book a booster jab in England?

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Yes, all those aged 18 and over can book from today. The programme was opened up to those at least 30 years old on Monday, but this has now been widened.  

Are there exceptions for those aged under 18?

All frontline health and social care workers have already been eligible for their booster jab, whatever their age.

Those aged 16 or 17 and with a health condition that puts them at ‘high risk’ from Covid-19 are also eligible. Those conditions include long-term lung conditions, kidney disease and diabetes – and are listed in full on the NHS website here.

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How long ago do you need to have had your second jab?

You can pre-book a booster if it has been 61 days since your second dose, but the appointment dates you will be offered will be from 91 days after your second dose.

What if you’ve had a positive Covid-19 test?

If you’re eligible for a booster and you’ve had a positive Covid-19 test, you need to wait 28 days before getting the booster.

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This starts from the date you had symptoms, or the date of the positive test if you had no symptoms. You can cancel and rebook your jab for a later date if needed.

How do you book your booster?

You can book your booster on the NHS website by clicking here. The website will ask for your NHS number, although you do not need this to book.

You will also be asked for your date of birth and postcode, so the website can offer you a list of available appointments at a range of different centres.

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You will be told whether there are morning or afternoon and evening appointments available, and can then click on an hour-time slot, and then a 10-minute slot.

You will then be sent a confirmation email with a booking reference, and can use this to manage your appointment and change the time if necessary by clicking here.

It comes as the head of the NHS insisted the booster programme only aimed to ‘offer’ the jabs to all by the end of the year, not administer them.

While the total daily doses are breaking records, the numbers are still well short of the one million per day needed to jab everyone by New Year’s Day.

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On Sunday, the Prime Minister said: ‘Everyone eligible aged 18 and over in England will have the chance to get their booster before the New Year.’

But speaking at a Commons Public Accounts Committee hearing yesterday, Amanda Pritchard, Chief Executive of NHS England, said: ‘The Prime Minister has given us a new national mission to offer a vaccine to all eligible adults by the end of the year in response to this new Omicron threat.

‘So what that means is a credible offer. We know that not everybody will be able to take up their offer either because they will have recently had Covid.

‘Or indeed, because they may, for other reasons, not be able to take up a date.

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‘But the ambition for us is to make sure that anybody who wants, who is eligible, is able to book their booster by the end of the year.’

She pointed out that the number of boosters delivered on Tuesday was 70 per cent higher than the same day the previous week.

‘The NHS is absolutely dependent on the support of not just the public, but our brilliant volunteers and the whole national effort to be able to do this,’ she added.

Tuesday also saw more than 630,000 booster jabs booked through the online booking service – the highest number for any Tuesday on record.

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But daily virus cases surged to a record 78,610 with 165 deaths yesterday, and business leaders and Tory MPs are calling for support for hospitality and travel firms whose bookings are collapsing.

Commenting on the booster record Dr Emily Lawson, director of the NHS Covid-19 vaccination programme, said: ‘NHS staff are once again pulling out all the stops to accelerate the NHS covid-19 vaccination programme, the biggest and most successful in health service history, and these figures show just how hard we are all working to get lifesaving jabs in arms.’

It comes as Chris Whitty called for limits on socialising last night despite Mr Johnson insisting festive plans should not be cancelled over Omicron.

In a sign of the divisions between scientists and No 10, the chief medical officer gave a downbeat assessment of the Covid variant, warning of a huge surge in cases.

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He cautioned against reports that Omicron was a milder strain, said a ‘substantial’ rise in hospitalisations was ‘nailed on’ and warned the NHS could face serious staff shortages as doctors and nurses fell ill.

Professor Whitty issued a clear message on Christmas socialising, suggesting people should ‘prioritise’ and not meet friends if they hoped to see their families. He added: ‘Don’t mix with people you don’t have to.’

Prime Minister Boris Johnson during a media briefing at Downing Street in London yesterday

Prime Minister Boris Johnson during a media briefing at Downing Street in London yesterday

People celebrate being able to book booster jabs with NO queues 2

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People celebrate being able to book booster jabs with NO queues 4

People celebrate being able to book booster jabs with NO queues 6

But, speaking at a tense press conference in Downing Street, the Prime Minister struck a markedly more upbeat tone, hailing record booster jab figures as evidence of a ‘great national fightback’ against Omicron.

Third dose rates were double those in the EU, he said, adding: ‘Let’s keep going. Let’s carry on giving Omicron both barrels. Let’s slow its spread and give the vaccines more time.’

He urged care when seeing loved ones and friends – including taking a test before meeting anyone vulnerable – but insisted there was no need to limit Christmas activities.

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‘We are not cancelling events or closing hospitality,’ he said. ‘We are not cancelling people’s parties or their ability to mix. What we are saying is think carefully before you go about what kind of event it is.

‘Are you likely to meet people who are vulnerable? Get a test, make sure there is ventilation, wear a mask on transport.’

People celebrate being able to book booster jabs with NO queues 8

People celebrate being able to book booster jabs with NO queues 10

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People celebrate being able to book booster jabs with NO queues 12

People celebrate being able to book booster jabs with NO queues 14

Downing Street insisted Mr Johnson would not hesitate to impose further restrictions if necessary, despite being rocked on Tuesday night by a revolt of 100 Tory MPs over the introduction of Plan B measures such as Covid passports.

No 10 said MPs, who depart for their Christmas break tonight, would be recalled to legislate for new curbs if needed. Downing Street hopes the country can get through Christmas without the need for further sweeping restrictions.

But Dr Jenny Harries, head of the UK Health Security Agency, told MPs that Omicron was ‘probably the most significant threat’ since the start of the pandemic – and warned that case numbers were likely to hit ‘staggering’ levels.

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Professor Graham Medley, one of the Government’s leading modelling experts, said there was a ‘very real possibility’ the NHS would be overwhelmed next month.

Dr Nikki Kanani, director of primary care for the NHS, urged football fans not to attend stadiums this weekend unless it’s to ‘get a jab’ at a pop-up site.

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