NHS website crashes as people rush to book booster jabs

Rush to book booster jabs

As I write this on Monday night (13 December) the NHS website for booking Covid jabs has crashed. The prime minister went on air on Sunday (yesterday) to warn of a ‘tidal wave’ of the Omicron virus and brought the vaccination programme forward.

All over-18s who had their second dose of the vaccine at least three months ago are now entitled to get their booster. More than half a million people booked their Covid booster jab on Monday despite the website crashing and long queues formed at walk-in vaccination sights.

Health practitioners have voiced their doubts as to whether it is possible to administer the one million doses daily which would be required to get the population triple jabbed by the end of the month. Dr Andrew Parker, a medical doctor in Kent commented on social media:

“Nobody has anything left in the tank Boris, let alone enough to double vaccinations. I’m supposed to be on leave next week, sorely needed. I’m sat here wondering if I should cancel it, whilst crying over the thought of it.”

Another healthcare worker wrote:

“I’m an APM, on leave next week. Our PCN  (primary care network) just opted back into the booster campaign & I was heavily involved in running our clinic last time. I’m not cancelling my leave though, I haven’t had a full week of leave since December 2019.”

To find the nearest walk-in centres enter your postcode here.

Image above: No testing kits available notice

No testing kits available

From today (Tuesday 14 December), fully-vaccinated people in England who come into contact with any Covid case should take lateral flow tests for seven days.

Health Secretary Sajid Javid has been doing the rounds of TV News studios urging everyone to ‘take a free lateral flow test’ before meeting with people, to combat the Omicron Covid variant but even as he was giving this message on Monday the government website was temporarily suspended amid high demand.

Rupa Huq MP for Ealing Central and Acton Tweeted the picture above and the comment:

“Same story everywhere… this daily testing malarkey not going to the most flying start ever.”

People cancel bookings for parties and meals out as new restrictions come into force

Covid restrictions were reintroduced on Monday:

  • Face coverings are required by law in most indoor settings
  • Office workers who can work from home should do so
  • From 15 December, certain (mainly large) venues and events will be required by law to check that all visitors aged 18 years or over are fully vaccinated, have proof of a negative test in the last 48 hours, or have an exemption

The rules governing restaurants and pubs have not changed but even before the prime minister made his announcement on Sunday, businesses in the hospitality trade in Chiswick were already experiencing a deluge of cancellations of meals and parties.

One pub, which would not thank me for naming them, said they had received 60 cancellations in two days. Another local business, a high end caterer, told me they had lost big corporate clients whose business was worth thousands of pounds. First they rang to say they were cutting back on the numbers at their Christmas party, then they rang to say they were cancelling it altogether and wanted their deposit back.

Pubs are “safe and welcoming environments” says Fuller’s chief

Chief Executive of Fuller’s Simon Emeny

The Chief Executive of Fuller’s Simon Emeny put out a statement on Friday on a bid to stem the flow:

“I wanted to reassure all of our guests that you can continue to enjoy the festive season in our pubs and be confident that they are safe and welcoming environments.

“While masks are not required in hospitality settings, we understand that some people feel more comfortable with them on – and we are supportive of any team members and customers who prefer to wear them. We also continue to be vigilant about the cleaning and sanitising within our pubs to ensure they are safe places for our teams to work and our guests to relax.

“I am so proud of the way our teams, across all of our pubs, have reacted to the challenges they have faced both this year and last – and I’m so proud of the way our customers have supported them.

“Working in a pub or hotel is a very sociable job, and our teams are friendly people who survive and thrive on social interaction. I’d like to thank you for giving us your custom and recognising the steps we’ve taken to keep you safe. Your visits mean the world to us – and I know how pleased our teams are to see you all during these difficult times.

“Our pubs are warm – and the welcome is even warmer – so we hope to see you very soon.”

The Griffin Brewery welcomed friends and family on Saturday – workers at the brewery with their families and neighbours who live around the brewery. There were games for the the children, beer and food for the adults and carols from Chiswick Choir, recently renamed the West London Chorus.

In previous years the brewery has held an open day, publicising it much more widely to the whole of Chiswick, but this year’s event was kept deliberately low kew.

Covid numbers in Chiswick

Most of England has turned purple again on the government’s Covid tracker map, indicating case rates of between 400 and 799 per 100,000 people. Parts of Fulham and Hammersmith, including Brook Green and Brackenbury are coloured black on the map, showing case rates of higher than 800, as are parts of South Ealing, Elthorne Park and Hanwell.

In Chiswick the latest figures for the seven days to 8 December are these:

Chiswick south west – total (new) cases 60, up 9 (17.6%). Case rate per 100,000 people – 724

Chiswick south east – total (new) cases 57, up 10 (21.3%). Case rate per 100,000 people – 643.7

Chiswick Park – total (new) cases 59, up 17 (40.5%). Case rate per 100,000 people – 662.3

Bedford Park – total (new) cases 34, down 19 (-35.8.5%). Case rate per 100,000 people – 492.3

Chiswick north east – total (new) cases 55, up 11 (25.0%). Case rate per 100,000 people – 656.1

Chiswick north west – total (new) cases 45, up 1 (2.3%). Case rate per 100,000 people – 660.4

Read more stories on The Chiswick Calendar

See also: Environmentalist Rebecca Frayn attacks Chiswick councillor Joanna Biddolph’s “undemocratic” and “deranged” behaviour

See also: Gunnersbury station rated worst Underground station in London

See all the latest stories: Chiswick Calendar News & Features

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