Long queues are forming at COVID vaccination centres and there are reports of the NHS booking site repeatedly crashing as people scramble to get their booster jabs ahead of Christmas.
There are lengthy lines outside vaccination centres as people wait to get their booster shots.
One queue at St Thomas’ Hospital in central London snakes around several streets and the back of the queue is on Westminster Bridge. People near the front say they’ve been waiting around two hours.
One man said the queue at St Thomas’ Hospital was six hours long, telling Sky News’s Milena Veselinovic he had been waiting since 8.10am.
He said he was told the queue was so long “because there were only four vaccinators vaccinating walk-ins”, but St Thomas’ told Sky News: “We certainly have more than four vaccinators working today.”
Stephanie McPhillips waited nearly three hours to get her booster jab at the Ulster Hospital, but said “it was worth it”.
Monday was the first day people aged 30 to 39 in England could officially book the jab.
There are also problems with the NHS website, which people say has been repeatedly crashing as they tried to book their booster jabs.
One error message said the NHS website was “currently experiencing technical difficulties”.
Others reported being stuck in a queue while trying to book their booster through the NHS website, with the warning: “Lots of people are trying to book an appointment at the moment.”
The NHS in England also advised people trying to book a booster to try again later on Monday or on Tuesday as people faced issues.
In a tweet, the health service said: “The Covid vaccine booking service is currently facing extremely high demand so is operating a queuing system.
“For users aged 18-29, please be aware that booking opens on Wednesday 15 Dec.
“For all others experiencing waits, we would advise trying again later today or tomorrow.”
NHS Digital said the service had already booked more than 140,000 vaccine appointments on Monday, with people waiting several minutes.
Armed forces personnel have been made available to help the health service administer booster vaccines, the Ministry of Defence announced.
Around 750 servicemen and women will help deliver jabs in England and Scotland.
And waiting times for observation could be scrapped or reduced under plans to speed up vaccination efforts.
The patient information leaflet for the Moderna vaccine says patients should be watched for at least 15 minutes to monitor for signs of an allergic reaction, but some doctors have said the waiting time can “reduce the efficiency” of vaccine centres.
Last night, the PM launched a “national mission” called Omicron Emergency Boost.
This morning, Health Secretary Sajid Javid urged people to get their booster jab as soon as possible, warning that “two doses are not enough, but three doses provide excellent protection against symptomatic infection”.
He said the UK is expanding its booster programme “to a level we’ve never seen before”.
It means there will be more vaccination centres, and they will be open seven days a week for at least 12 hours a day, with some staying open for 24 hours, Mr Javid said.
More than 40% of adults in the UK have already had a booster vaccination.
Boris Johnson has said those involved in delivering jabs should be “incredibly proud” of the vaccine rollout.
The prime minister was visiting a vaccination clinic in west London when he was asked whether the accelerated delivery of the booster programme was too little too late.
He replied: “We now want to hit warp speed and we’ll have to attain a pace and a number of daily booster doses that will exceed anything that we’ve done before.
“But I’ve got no doubt at all that we have the people, we have the enthusiasm, we have the fundamental optimism about what we can do, which we’ve learned from the experience of the last 18 months.
“And I know that people are going to rise to this.”
A message on gov.uk says: “Sorry, there are no more home tests available right now. Try again later.
“Or, you can go back and try to book a test site appointment instead.”
A new study has found two doses of the Pfizer and AstraZeneca vaccines induce lower levels of antibodies against Omicron, with researchers warning the findings indicate the new variant has the potential to spread a further wave of infections, even among those already vaccinated.
It came after data from the Cov-Boost trial indicated the Pfizer vaccine is well tolerated as a third dose and provides a strong booster response, with experts advising a half-dose of the Moderna vaccine could also be offered.
UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) data published on Friday indicated reduced effectiveness of two doses of those vaccines against symptomatic disease due to the Omicron variant when compared with Delta, but also found the effectiveness was improved by a third dose.