More than 86 million Covid vaccination appointments booked through NHS online system in first two years

More than 86 million Covid vaccination appointments have been arranged using the NHS’s national online booking system since its launch two years ago.

The national booking service, which is managed by NHS England, launched in January 2021 to allow people to book their Covid vaccine online and via the 119 phoneline.

The service is easy to use and the NHS is urging anyone under 50 who is yet to get their booster, or those eligible that haven’t come forward for an autumn booster, to book an appointment by the end of this week.

Sunday 12 February is the last day of the autumn booster campaign and will also be the final day that 16 to 49-year-olds, who are not considered at risk, will be able to get a booster following updated advice from the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI).

Vaccine appointments can be arranged using the online national booking service, which was integrated with the NHS App in December 2022. Around one in eight vaccination bookings (over 12%) are now made using the NHS App.

In October 2022, it was also expanded to include bookings for free NHS flu vaccinations at pharmacies, with more than 207,000 flu jab appointments arranged using the service in the last three months.

The busiest day so far for the service was 8 June 2021 when Covid jabs became available to 25 to 29-year-olds and a total of 1,031,295 appointments were made in 24 hours. This equates to almost 43,000 bookings an hour and over 700 every minute.

Helen Clifton, Executive Director of Product Delivery at NHS England, said: “Back in early 2020, no-one could have envisaged that we were about to design and create a system of this scale in such a short timeframe, so we’re immensely proud that the National Booking Service has enabled millions of people to book their jabs quickly and easily.

“The fact that it’s now being used for flu vaccinations is not only testament to its success, but also a great example of existing digital services being adapted and enhanced to meet the needs of patients.”

Health Minister Maria Caulfield said: “Vaccines save lives. Thanks to the efforts of hardworking NHS staff and volunteers, over 140 million vital doses of Covid vaccine have been delivered in England and the National Booking Service has played a crucial role in making it quick and easy to get vaccinated.

“The service has been a huge success and is a fantastic example of how the NHS can make use of technology to improve health outcomes and streamline the experience for patients.

“If you are eligible for a vaccine – whether it’s your first dose, second dose or booster – book yours now. The booster programme will be closing in England on 12 February so please do not delay.”

NHS Medical Director Professor Sir Stephen Powis said: “This is the final weekend of the winter covid booster campaign and also the last chance for any adults under 50 without underlying health conditions to get a booster if they have not yet taken up the offer, following updated JCVI advice.

“If you are yet to get a top-up dose that you are eligible for, I would strongly encourage you to make the most of the protection on offer from the NHS while it is still available and give yourself and loved ones protection and peace of mind for the year ahead.”

The online national booking service also includes other components, such as a check-in app to help stewards book people in at a vaccination centre and a service to allow people who have had their vaccinations overseas to get an appointment to have this recognised.

A prioritised version of the service has also been provided to 119 call handlers so that when the service is extremely busy those people who prefer to book via the call centre are prioritised.

Everyone eligible for a Covid vaccination can book either online, via the NHS App or by calling 119. You can also find a walk-in vaccination site, where no appointments are necessary.

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