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13 Dec, 2021 15:26

Heavy Covid jab-booking traffic crashed NHS website

Heavy Covid jab-booking traffic crashed NHS website

The NHS website for booking Covid-19 vaccinations went down as tens of thousands of people logged on to reserve their booster shot after the UK government rolled out its plan to offer one to all adults by the end of the year.

Shortly after putting people into e-queues on Monday, the appointment-booking website went down due to “technical difficulties.” It was reportedly the service’s second crash following Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s announcement Sunday night about ramping up the program to fight the Omicron variant and urging those eligible to “get boosted now.”

Later in the morning, the website was apparently working again intermittently, but people were waiting in queues of between 10,000 and 15,000. According to the BBC, the health department had claimed the crash was caused because more than 100,000 people had tried to get an appointment.

The prime minister’s official spokesman told the public broadcaster that the NHS was working to ensure there was “further capacity” on the website to book booster jabs in an effort to “adapt to the increased demand.”

In a later tweet, the NHS noted that the booking service was “currently facing extremely high demand” and had resorted to “operating a queueing system.” It advised applicants “experiencing waits” to try again “later today or tomorrow.”

Under the new plan, people aged 30 and above are now eligible to book their third shot online via the NHS website, while people aged 18 to 29 can book online starting Wednesday. However, all adults have been able to get vaccinated at walk-in centers since Monday. This has led to long lines outside pharmacies, hospitals, and temporary vaccine sites across the country.

Meanwhile, “exceptionally high demand” forced the UK Health Security Agency to suspend the online ordering of lateral flow test kits from the government website in order to “fulfill existing orders.” The website noted that there were “no more home tests available” but said that the rapid test kits – which allow people to self-test for Covid-19 – could be collected from “local pharmacies, some community sites and some schools and colleges.”

On Monday, Defence Secretary Ben Wallace confirmed 750 military personnel had been deployed to boost the rollout of the government program, while Health Secretary Sajid Javid warned the UK was in a “race between the virus and the vaccine” due to the “phenomenal” spread of the Omicron variant.

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