The UK's National Health Service is now offering COVID-19 vaccines to those aged 45 and above however the volume of interest has made the appointment-booking website prone to wobbles.
Despite an impressive take-up by the over-50s, it appears healthcare bigwigs did not anticipate the demand once the over-45s were permitted to join in. If only there was some record of just how many there are in that age group.
The brakes were taken off last night as the vaccines became available to "all adults over 50, the clinically vulnerable and health and social care workers," although some might quibble with the definition of "clinically vulnerable."
If you’re over 45 and in England, looks like you can book your Covid jab on the NHS website now. I’m not, but I wish those who are eligible the best of luck!— Alex von Tunzelmann (@alexvtunzelmann) April 12, 2021
By this morning the NHS site had been updated to reflect that over-45s were also permitted to book in for a jab. Tweets were shared, WhatsApp groups lit up, and the website fell over with time-outs and "Bad Gateway" errors.
Even the BBC's technology desk editor was not immune.
The Register contacted the NHS to find out what had befallen its service and NHS Digital responded to say it was looking into the issue, directing us to this freshly laid Tweet.
We are aware that some users are experiencing delays when accessing the vaccine booking service. We are working to investigate the issue as a priority and minimise the impact on service users.— NHS Digital (@NHSDigital) April 13, 2021
The patient's symptoms look like a classic case of failing to scale to meet a predictable demand.
Still, both the efficiency of the rollout of the vaccine in the UK and the willingness of citizens to proffer an arm is a thing to behold. The odd wobble of the booking site is unlikely to deter any who have patiently waited their turn.
Patience was eventually rewarded this morning for this hack with booking reference numbers issued for both the first and second appointments (the vaccines in use in the UK are two-jab affairs).
We would, however, suggest taking a screenshot of the details – not all confirmation emails have arrived.
Should readers qualify and wish to get themselves jabbed, our advice is to have a cup of tea and then try, try and try again. ®