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Book Your Covid Booster! Errr, How? Where?

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Nigel Graham 210/11/2021 18:23:05
2009 forum posts
27 photos

Anyone else elsewhere in the UK finding as I am, how to plan a system to be as inconvenient and inaccessible for as many people as possibel?


I live in an area the more high-faultin' Metrocentrics regard as "down in deepest" bucolic rurality fit only for their second-homes: the County of Dorset.

So I was not too impressed by the NHS booking system. Not so much the web-site, though that's hardly brilliant; but by the distribution.

The ex-Hampshire urban sprawl that is Bournemouth (30+ miles from me), has hogged all the county's resources save for one single pharmacy in Dorchester, the county town half-way across Dorset by longitude.

Dorchester is only about 10 miles from me, and by very convenient First bus services. Only, the web-site's next "five" days for that chemists' are really only two and fully booked, though it does not tell you so straight away.

Going round the loop several times offered absolutely nowhere else in the county - not even Weymouth. Sorry Lyme Regis (about 60 miles from Bournemouth), you don't exist either. Try Exeter. Taunton if you are lucky.

It did one place in Yeovil (30 miles), hard to find on the linked, low-quality Google map. It is in a minor street in the large, very tangled and very busy town centre a local warns me is a nightmare to drive around. Like Bournemouth then (and Doncaster with its city-centre race-course!).

First by its GWR pretence, runs trains between Weymouth and Yeovil but only sparsely; and topography had forced the real 19C Great Western Railway to build Yeovil Pen Mill station a long way from any 21C Covid-jab centre.

Looks as if it will have to be Haynes Motor Museum at Sparkford - further afield still, some 40 miles, accessible appropriately only by by car. It's all right though, Miss Greater Thunderbox, mine uses E10 adulterated petrol.

I don't know if I can book anywhere by 'phone - if so no doubt through an interminable queue and call-centre rigmarole.

How the Hell do they design these allocations? Pin a map of the British Isles to a London office wall and throw darts at it from a Covid-safe distance? ("Triple Bournemouth - one-hundred-and-eighty and out!"

Tough on any of us living a long way from conurbations like Yeovil, Bournemouth and Exeter; and if you cannot book on-line I don't know if you can book anyway.

Frances IoM10/11/2021 18:35:38
1247 forum posts
28 photos
even in deepest Surrey and in the 'high risk' over 75s I was notified by email and responded within an hour by which time there was only one location within my town (luckily within walking distance) with the only slot being around 5pm some 12 days later - all other options involved a minimum 5 mile or even further trip. Compared to the previous 2 jabs it appeared to be organised on the cheap and might explain why the take up in us wrinklies was less than expected - not everyone fancies a long trip on public transport to some pharmacy tucked away in a town you don't know..
duncan webster10/11/2021 18:41:24
3919 forum posts
61 photos

I booked mine on the interweb (pain free), and SWMBO did hers by ringing 119, again pain free. Hers was a couple of days after mine, but we both turned up at mine and both got done. Plus if you're prepared for a long wait in the rain our local surgery have a drop in on Saturday mornings, so it might be worth contacting yours.

We were asked to cancel SWMBO's as soon as we got home. The system had already done it. Unusually for anything to do with government, this has worked like clockwork for us all through, so don't give up

Martin Connelly10/11/2021 18:46:45
2123 forum posts
222 photos

It's probably the NHS not the Government, and that's why it worked.

Martin C

Harry Wilkes10/11/2021 18:59:15
1322 forum posts
65 photos

My Doctors sorted mine well that said Doctor's phoned to book flu jab and at same time to me and wife due for our top up covid jab and told us to go to the medical center where we had the first two covid jabs any Thursday in Oct between 13.30 - 18.30


Nigel Graham 210/11/2021 19:35:39
2009 forum posts
27 photos

Those replies suggest to me very patchy arrangements around the country.

My own health-centre is not involved! It simply relayed the NHS message.

Obviously many people will happen to live close to one of the centres, but I live in a populous area that the vaccination-allocators seem to have ignored, thinking all and sundry can easily travel to unfamiliar, large towns 30, 40, even 80 miles from home for services that could and should be provided much more locally.

(I was briefly offered Exeter, 80 miles away.)

If I had to use the centre for my first vaccination, as did Mr. & Mrs. Wilkes, I would need to go to Bruton, luckily an easy enough drive but still 42 miles away.

The web-site is not difficult to use but is very annoying because it does not identify the very few vaccination centres even vaguely in your region until you have completed several pages with one question per page; then lets you choose one before telling you it is fully-booked.

It's as if the allocation-planners think we all live in big towns, as if the web-site writers worry only that the routines work; and neither group cares much about we users.

not done it yet10/11/2021 19:56:46
6719 forum posts
20 photos

Our 182 days came and went. I looked on the NHS website and the closest centre shown was around 30 miles distant. Not good. My wife is in the group that was classed as extremely vulnerable.

As I was walking past the local vaccination centre (less than two miles distant) I asked the fellow at the entrance why they were not shown as an option. He replied ring the NHS number, which I did when I got home. An hour later we were booked in for a week ahead (at the same time).

Apparently vaccination centres are removed from the internet site when they are booked up so far ahead.

The guy asked questions, one of which was whether we had received an invite. I replied “I don’t know” and that reply was clearly good enough. My wife got a text invitation to book about 3 days later.

Apparently, our local site was back on the net by the time I rang. It was a Pharmacy2U site where they had set up in an unused car showroom.

A much improved experience over the unsatisfactory performing local practice, who can only provide ‘flu jabs on a Saturday - and if you are not there, tough. Simple money grabbing, rather than providing a service.

Emgee10/11/2021 20:35:26
2404 forum posts
285 photos

My local Vida Healthcare surgery were also offering only Saturday morning flu jabs, I tried to book but none were available. Rang the pharmacy where I get my medication and was asked to attend the next morning between 9-30 and 11-00, so much simpler.

Seems the NHS Surgeries are happy to see more privatisation and loss of income from such treatments.



Edited By Emgee on 10/11/2021 20:35:55

Ian Hewson10/11/2021 21:09:13
321 forum posts
27 photos

My wife and I had our boosters a month ago along with the flue jab.

Our local surgery in Northumberland send us text messages to book with next day service.

They have a large marquee set up with plenty of staff for a quick and efficient procedure.

We seem to have been lucky, but since moving from Leeds to Ashington the service has been a lot better.


HOWARDT10/11/2021 21:14:24
900 forum posts
39 photos

Had notification text last Thursday from NHS to book, went on line from given link and book local for Friday 8:25am. Wife got home just after, received her text, again booked for same time. Went down Friday, walked out at 9am all done and dusted.

Nigel Graham 210/11/2021 22:15:09
2009 forum posts
27 photos

Yes, it seems to work in other parts of the country. Just not mine.

I returned to the original message on my 'phone and found it has the 119 number tucked away in one of about 5 pages of text. So I'll try that. I might actually get more sense from a human than from a web-site holding a only a short, arbitrary list of distant towns.

I had thought the web-site would be the easier option as it has none of the call-centre rhubarb.

It seems that the more big organisations make life easy and efficient for them, the harder and less efficient it becomes for us.

Peter Greene 🇨🇦10/11/2021 22:56:41
488 forum posts
6 photos

Just curious but do you guys have to wait a certain length of time after the second shot before getting the third?

Nigel Graham 210/11/2021 23:08:50
2009 forum posts
27 photos

Yes - 132 days between the 2nd and booster.

pgk pgk10/11/2021 23:18:20
2549 forum posts
293 photos

Our vax centre is an hour away. Wife came with me to my appt in hope of being able to get her booster (after failing to get through by phone). She was refused as being 6 days too early for a 6mth shot.
The local process is dehumanising.. arrive and then spend 30+ mins queuing from floor mark to floor mark then 10 mins in the booth while they pratt about...
Flu short at local surgery 10 mins away..arrived on time in, done, out 5 mins.


Dave Daniels11/11/2021 07:52:22
83 forum posts

Reading some previous posts I now feel rather pampered.

Got a text message from Surgery to book for flu and COVID Booster at Babington Hospital, Belper.

Booked online for 10:10 AM Tues.

10 min. drive, parked up at 09:55.

Bit of a queue but it was always moving.

Jab in each arm, then wait 15 mins.

Drove out at 10:20.

Home at 10:30.

Some 47 mins. door to door ... so the NHS can work


mgnbuk11/11/2021 07:57:43
1175 forum posts
71 photos

Maybe down to population density ?

A colleague mentioned on Monday that over 50s could now book the booster before the 182 days "rule", so I did so online. Earliest date offered was presumably 182 days since my 2nd original dose & the nearest of the many options offered was at a chemist 1/2 a mile away. I went for the local football stadium (3rd or 4th option by distance at 2.2 miles) as parking is easier & they had a wide choice of time slots on my prefered day. I rang my wife, who went online & booked the same time slot on the same day at the same venue, so only one visit for us both.

Couldn't really have been any easier to arrange something at our convenience, but then Kirklees is quite a large metropolitan area & part of the "Leeds City Region" so a lot of people & a lot of facilities.

Nigel B.

Nigel Graham 211/11/2021 08:51:38
2009 forum posts
27 photos

I'm going to try the telephone option this morning and see if that works.... I think I have all day free to continue to hold...

Keith Wyles11/11/2021 08:53:27
94 forum posts

Booked ours on Sunday for tomorrow There were plenty of slots available.

JA11/11/2021 09:05:03
1345 forum posts
80 photos

I had my booster yesterday at Bath Racecourse vaccination centre. The first two jabs were also done there and the process was quick with short queues, in and out in under 35 minutes. This time the queues were long and moved very slowly. The in to out time was an hour and a half. The staff numbers seemed the same as before, just far more waiting to be vaccinated.

I have to say that everybody was very patient and well behaved.


Oven Man11/11/2021 09:12:39
179 forum posts
31 photos
Posted by Dave Daniels on 11/11/2021 07:52:22:

Reading some previous posts I now feel rather pampered.

Got a text message from Surgery to book for flu and COVID Booster at Babington Hospital, Belper.

Booked online for 10:10 AM Tues.

10 min. drive, parked up at 09:55.

Bit of a queue but it was always moving.

Jab in each arm, then wait 15 mins.

Drove out at 10:20.

Home at 10:30.

Some 47 mins. door to door ... so the NHS can work


Looks like the NHS in Derbyshire have got their act together. Exactly the same experience in Chesterfield. Very satisfactory result.


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