Booking website crashes minutes after expansion of vaccine programme

All adults aged over 45 can now book an appointment to be immunised

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The government website for booking coronavirus vaccinations crashed within minutes of appointments being opened to anyone over 45.

Yesterday morning marked the start of the second phase of the immunisation programme, after the government reached its first-stage target of offering everyone the vaccine to everyone aged over 50 or those deemed “clinically extremely vulnerable”.

The open invitation for everyone aged over 45 to book an appointment means that, overnight, an additional 3.8 million people across England are now able to arrange a vaccination.

By 8.30am the online portal for booking them had already crashed, displaying the message: “The NHS website is currently experiencing technical difficulties. We are working to resolve these issues. Thank you for your patience.”

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Other users reported being assigned a numbered place in a queue, with a holding screen that read: “You are in a queue. Lots of people trying to book an appointment.”

The vaccines minister Nadhim Zahawi tweeted shortly afterwards that the issue was now “fixed”.

Boris Johnson welcomed the start of phase two, and believed the UK remained on course to offer a first jab to all adults by the end of July.

“We have now passed another hugely significant milestone in our vaccine programme by offering jabs to everyone in the nine highest risk groups,” he said. “That means more than 32 million people have been given the precious protection vaccines provide against Covid-19. I want to thank everyone involved in the vaccine rollout which has already saved many thousands of lives.”

From this week NHS patients in England have started receiving the Moderna coronavirus vaccine, officials have confirmed. The third jab to be approved for use, its introduction “marks another milestone” in the vaccination programme according to Professor Stephen Powis, medical director for NHS England, after warnings of a “significant reduction in weekly supply” during April.

Figures show almost 40 million vaccine doses have now been given across the UK, including 32,190,576 first doses and 7,656,205 second doses.


Sam Trendall

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