Omicron: Thousands join virtual queue for Covid booster vaccine before being allowed to book

Surge in demand for third dose while booking system yet to reflect new guidance

Tom Batchelor
Monday 29 November 2021 16:31
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Related video: Boris Johnson announces boost to booster programme in fight against omicron variant

Thousands of people have been queuing to register for a Covid booster vaccine on the NHS website after it was revealed that all people aged 18 and over are to be offered a third jab to tackle the spread of the new omicron variant.

There were reports of people waiting in a queue to access the booking page for five minutes or more, with 3,000 held in a virtual line ready to book.

However, on Monday afternoon the NHS website had not been updated to reflect the new guidance, meaning some were being turned away despite now being eligible.

The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) is now advising that all adults aged 18 to 39 should be offered a third dose. Those aged 40 and over are already eligible for a booster vaccine.

Booster doses should be given no sooner than three months after people have had their second dose of an original vaccine - shaving three months off the current six-month wait, according to the JCVI.

When an Independent journalist – last vaccinated five months ago – attempted to register, they were told they were not yet eligible, despite fitting the new criteria.

In further advice, young people aged 12 to 15 should be offered a second dose of the Pfizer/BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine, no sooner than 12 weeks after their first dose.

One person attempting to register for their booster said on Twitter there were 3,000 people in the queue before him. Dozens more complained of similar waits to access the NHS online booking system.

The demand for booster vaccines will reassure the government and scientists who say that while the new omicron variant could reduce the effectiveness of jabs in stopping people getting infected, vaccines may still protect against severe disease.

Professor Wei Shen Lim, chair of the JCVI said: “Having a booster dose of the vaccine will help to increase our level of protection against the omicron variant.

”This is an important way for us to reduce the impact of this variant on our lives, especially in the coming months.

“If you are eligible for a booster, please take up the offer and keep yourself protected as we head into winter.”

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