NHS Covid vaccine booking website glitch wrongly tells 25 to 29-year-olds they are NOT eligible for jabs while thousands queue to make appointments – as NHS boss begs nation to come forward so we can ‘get back to the lives we love’
- Vaccine programme opened up to 25 to 29-year-olds this morning and was overwhelmed by demand
- Some were told in error it was too soon for them to book while others got through to a queue of thousands
- Experts worry young people will have low take-up of the vaccine because their personal risk is so low
- NHS chiefs said the programme is now in the ‘home straight’ and urged everyone to come forward to get one
People in their 20s were wrongly shown a message saying they were not eligible for a jab this morning. The NHS said it was ‘being fixed’ and 25 to 29-year-olds should keep trying
The NHS Covid vaccine booking website wrongly told under-30s they weren’t eligible for a jab this morning but was later inundated with thousands of young people stuck in queues as they tried to get through.
Medics appeared to be booking jabs at a rate of 1,000 per minute as users found themselves in thousands of places down in online queues that they likened to trying to get Glastonbury tickets.
An early message telling people they weren’t able to get the vaccine yet – despite the Health Secretary yesterday confirming all over-25s would be able to book it – is ‘being fixed now’, the NHS said as it suggested people retry.
The glitch was not linked to a mass website outage this morning triggered by an issue with a hosting service, which hit GOV.UK sites as well as news websites and Amazon and Reddit, but didn’t appear to affect the NHS.
England’s GP director Dr Nikki Kanani urged young people to come forward for their vaccines and said: ‘That is the best thing that we can all do to start to get back to the lives that we love and that we’ve been missing.’
A total of 40.5million people in the UK have had their first vaccine dose and 27.9million have had the second dose meaning they have maximum protection or will do when the booster kicks in in the next two weeks.
NHS boss Sir Simon Stevens said yesterday that the UK’s jab rollout is entering ‘the home straight’ now that it is reaching people in their 20s, who are at the lowest risk of dying or getting seriously ill if they catch Covid.
Evidence is growing that two doses of a jab protect well even against the newly dominant Indian variant and ministers hope this will be enough for a safe end to lockdown rules on June 21. The ‘Freedom Day’ date hangs in the balance, however, and calls are growing among scientists for a temporary extension to get more jabs out.
Any add-on to social distancing laws would likely only last for a few weeks to allow the NHS to get crucial second doses to as many older adults as possible and cut the risk of the Indian variant triggering a deadly third wave.
England’s GP director Dr Nikki Kanani (left) urged young people to come forward for their vaccines and said: ‘That is the best thing that we can all do to start to get back to the lives that we love and that we’ve been missing.’ NHS chief Sir Simon Stevens (right) yesterday said the programme is entering the ‘home straight’
Thousands of young Brits found themselves in a booking system queue for their vaccine appointments, which some likened to trying to book tickets for Glastonbury. The system appeared to be booking jabs at a rate of 1,000 per minute
Dr Kanani said on BBC Breakfast today that it gave her ‘goosebumps’ to think that the vaccine rollout was reaching the youngest age groups in the country and continuing to steam ahead.
‘With the vaccination programme, we have our best chance to start to get all of us, including the health service, back on to an even keel,’ the GP chief said.
Asked whether she thinks the June 21 relaxation of restrictions will still go ahead, she said: ‘I think we’re doing everything we can.
‘This vaccination programme has always promised that, if we have the supply, we will keep rolling out the programme, and, as you can see on this really momentous day, we’ve continued to do so.
‘My message to anyone listening today is please, please come forward if you get the message, either for your first dose or your second dose, because that is the best thing that we can all do to start to get back to the lives that we love and that we’ve been missing.
‘But the actual [decision on] June 21, that’s one for Government.’
The first morning of vaccines being available to people younger than 30 has been a dramatic one, with some told early in the morning that they couldn’t yet book the vaccines.
A message saying ‘You are not currently eligible to book through this service’ greeted some who tried to book an appointment based on their age after being encouraged to by texts sent from the NHS.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock had confirmed in Parliament yesterday that the programme would start for young adults from today and some had even received texts before his speech.
An NHS Digital spokesperson said: ‘We know that some people have been receiving an ineligible message when trying to book, which is being fixed now, so please retry.’
People who did get through were entered into a waiting queue because so many people were trying to book at once. Some found themselves thousands of people back but facing a wait of just minutes to get to the front.
MORE ADULT VACCINES ‘REDUCES NEED FOR CHILDREN TO GET JABS’
The more adults that get vaccinated against Covid, the smaller the need will be to give jabs to children, according to one of the country’s top advisers.
Professor Adam Finn, a University of Bristol paediatrician and member of the Government’s Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) said it would be a ‘hard call’ deciding whether to vaccinate children.
In a tweet posted today the JCVI member said: ‘Vaccination achieves 2 things. It reduces your risk of getting sick with COVID & it reduces the chance you’ll infect others.
‘If more adults get vaccinated there’ll be less need to immunise healthy children who have very low risk of getting sick but badly need schools to stay open.’
The UK’s medical regulator last week said it was safe and effective to give the Pfizer vaccine to children as young as 12.
No official decision has been made yet on whether teenagers will get jabs, but they currently have the highest Covid infection rate in the country.
The JCVI and Downing Street will likely try to pass the buck on deciding between one another because either choice will be controversial.
The current NHS vaccine rollout is scheduled to stop at age 18. Children are not expected to have a huge personal benefit from getting vaccinated because their Covid risk is so low, but it would protect them from long Covid and from infecting older people and keeping the outbreak running.
The system appeared to be booking appointments at a rate of around a thousand per minute as people flocked to get their jabs after waiting six months for their age group to be reached.
NHS Digital added: ‘Large numbers of people are currently booking their vaccine appointments through the NHS website, which means you may need to wait in a queue.’
The health service is expected to reveal how many people have booked already later today.
Experts have been worried that young people will have low vaccine uptake because their own risk from Covid is so low.
Just 649 people under the age of 40 have died of Covid since the start of the pandemic out of a total of 87,229 fatalities in England’s hospitals – 0.7 per cent.
But infection rates are currently highest among under-30s, with the biggest rate of positive tests per 100,000 people in teenagers (72) followed by those in their 20s (52), and they risk keeping the virus circulating for longer if they don’t get a jab.
It is hoped that young people, although not at risk themselves, will be motivated by the knowledge that vaccines will help the country end lockdown for good and protect their older family members.
Matt Hancock yesterday said there is growing evidence the jabs work and that it was vital people keep getting them.
He told MPs jabs currently being deployed in Britain have started to break the once ‘rock solid’ link between infections and admissions.
Cases in Bolton, the first hotspot for the new Indian ‘Delta’ strain, have started to fall, he said as he attributed some of this success to surge vaccinations, offering proof that the variant could be controlled without lockdowns.
He added: ‘Despite the rise in cases, hospitalisations have been broadly flat.
‘The majority of people in hospital with Covid appear to be those who haven’t had the vaccine at all.
‘I want to update the House on some new information that we have on this. As of the third of June our data show that of the 12,383 cases of the Delta variant, 464 went on to present at emergency care and 126 people were admitted to hospital.
‘Of these 126 people, 83 were unvaccinated, 28 had received one dose and just three had received both doses of the vaccine.’
He said: ‘The jabs are working, we have to keep coming forward to get them and that includes vitally that second jab which we know gives better protection against the Delta variant.’
Wales today committed to offering jabs to all over-18s by Monday.
First Minister Mark Drakeford said the milestone will be hit six weeks ahead of the UK target for giving vaccines to everyone over the age of 18 by the end of July.
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