Covid: Website crashes as thousands try to book boosterson December 13, 2021 at 12:39 pm

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Queues of people wait to get jabs in England, while rapid tests run out on the government website.

People queuing for booster jabs outside pharmacy

Image source, EPA

More than 100,000 people trying to book their Covid booster jabs on Monday has led to the NHS website crashing, the government has said.

Lateral flow test kits are also unavailable on the government website after a rush to order them.

This came after the prime minister said over-18s in England would be offered a third dose by the end of the year.

And fully jabbed people will be advised to test themselves daily if they are a contact of a Covid case from Tuesday.

Long queues at walk-in vaccine centres in England were also reported on Monday after Boris Johnson announced an expansion to the booster rollout on Sunday evening, in response to the Omicron variant.

At least one person in the UK has died with Omicron, the prime minister confirmed on Monday.

Online bookings for the over 30s opened from Monday, while 18-29 year olds are due to begin booking on Wednesday.

An NHS Digital spokesperson said: “The vaccine booking service is facing extremely high demand and is operating a queuing system to manage numbers.

“We would advise people currently unable to book to try again later today or tomorrow.”

Jo, 37, from Cambridge told the BBC it had taken her three hours to book an appointment for January and she had gone “round in circles” before managing to do so.

Separately, there has been an issue with ordering lateral flow tests from the government website, which says “there are no more home tests available”.

Free rapid tests are available from pharmacies as well.

Asked about the issues getting tests online, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said there was a “ready supply”.

He added: “But what I think, if I may say so, what that also shows is that people are doing the sensible thing and getting tests as well.”

Government sources told the BBC the problem would be resolved in a matter of hours after the rapid tests were restocked.

The rush for tests followed news that from Tuesday people who have been in contact with a Covid case will not need to isolate if their daily tests remain negative for seven days, and if they have had at least two vaccine doses.

Anyone who has a positive result from a rapid test should take a PCR test to verify the result, as well as continue to self-isolate.

At Wimbledon’s Centre Court shopping centre in south-west London, the queue for walk-in jabs stretched from one end of the building to the other after just 30 minutes of being open.

By 09:00 GMT, more than 100 adults – mostly under-40s wearing masks and some with babies in buggies – were waiting.

In the West Midlands, a long queue of about 200 people was forming around a car park and side roads at the back of the vaccination centre in Lye, near Stourbridge.

People at the front said they had waited for about an hour to reach the entrance, with some people with booked appointments choosing to leave after being forced to wait.

On Monday, Health Secretary Sajid Javid warned the UK was in a “race between the virus and the vaccine” over the spread of Omicron.

He said the new highly-transmissible Covid-19 variant was spreading at a “phenomenal rate”, with cases doubling every two to three days.

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