How do I book a booster jab? Where can I get a lateral flow test? What do I need a Covid passport for? YOUR questions about PM’s chaotic booster drive answered as MPs prepare for major vote on new Plan B rules
More than one million either had their booster or booked one in the 24 hours after the Prime Minister made a TV appeal for all adults to come forward and get jabbed.
People have been queueing for up to five hours and the NHS booking system has come under intense pressure with up to 57,000 appointments being made an hour.
Today, Boris Johnson is facing the biggest rebellion of his premiership, with dozens of Tory MPs set to vote against Plan B restrictions including vaccine passports.
There are claims that the requirement for Covid passes – showing full vaccination or a recent negative test for the virus – is an infringement of people’s civil liberties.
There is also concern at the economic impact of a return of the working from home guidance on town and city centre businesses at a crucial time of the year.
Here, MailOnline answers questions about boosters and the Plan B rule changes:
What is a booster jab?
A booster jab is the third coronavirus vaccine, and is available to those who have had their first and second doses.
Can you book a booster jab in England?
Yes, but only if you are aged at least 30 years old. Those aged 18 to 29 will be able to do so from tomorrow – but can already go to walk-in centres.
Are there exceptions for those aged under 30?
Yes, all frontline health and social care workers are already eligible for their booster jab, whatever their age.
Those aged 16 years old and over with a health condition that puts them at ‘high risk’ from Covid-19 are also eligible. Those conditions include long-term lung conditions, kidney disease and diabetes – and are listed in full on the NHS website here.
How long ago do you need to have had your second jab?
You can pre-book a booster if it has been 61 days since your second dose, but the appointment dates you will be offered will be from 91 days after your second dose.
Those visiting the NHS website this morning were put into a queue of unspecified length
What if you’ve had a positive Covid-19 test?
If you’re eligible for a booster and you’ve had a positive Covid-19 test, you need to wait 28 days before getting the booster.
This starts from the date you had symptoms, or the date of the positive test if you had no symptoms. You can cancel and rebook your jab for a later date if needed.
How do you book your booster?
You can book your booster on the NHS website by clicking here. The website will ask for your NHS number, although you do not need this to book.
You will also be asked for your date of birth and postcode, so the website can offer you a list of available appointments at a range of different centres.
You will be told whether there are morning or afternoon and evening appointments available, and can then click on an hour-time slot, and then a 10-minute slot.
You will then be sent a confirmation email with a booking reference, and can use this to manage your appointment and change the time if necessary by clicking here.
Can you actually get an appointment at the moment?
Britons have been waking up in the middle of the night to book their booster jabs online as record numbers continue to try to get an appointment on the NHS website.
Those trying today were put into a queue and saw a message saying: ‘You are in a queue. Lots of people are trying to book an appointment at the moment. We will tell you where you are in the queue and your estimated wait time shortly.’
In some cases Britons were then put into a queue with a specified number of people for five minutes and then asked to begin the process by inputting their NHS number.
The NHS said the service was ‘facing extremely high demand’ and urged people to ‘try again later today or tomorrow’ if they could not get an appointment.
How many people have booked their booster so far?
More than a million people either had their booster or booked one in the 24 hours since Boris Johnson made a TV appeal to head off a ‘tidal wave’ of Omicron.
Official statistics revealed some 110,000 people had booked a booster on the NHS website by 9am yesterday, which rose to 415,000 by 5pm and 550,000 by 8pm.
Up to 57,000 bookings were made an hour – 16 a second – with 4.4million visitors to the appointments page by 8pm. Up to 127,000 people were waiting in online queues.
Britons queue to receive Covid-19 boosters at St Thomas’ Hospital in London this morning
Can you put in someone’s else details in the system?
What about walk-in sites?
Anyone who is eligible to book a Covid-19 jab online can also go to a walk-in vaccination centre and queue for their jab. You can find one by clicking here.
The NHS said on Sunday that some vaccination sites may also be already offering a walk-in service since yesterday for those aged 18 to 29 if they have spare capacity.
This means those aged 18 to 29 could get their booster jab today, before they are able to book an appointment online (like all 30+ adults already can) from tomorrow.
Are the walk-in centres busy?
Yes. Thousands have turned up at walk-in vaccine centres up and down the UK. Long queues have been seen outside many as people tried to get their boosters.
Some people had to wait up to five hours to be seen, and others reported being turned away in parts of the country, due to the huge demand.
Is there a different type of third dose to a booster?
Yes, there is a third dose for people with a severely weakened immune system. Those who are eligible for this should have received a letter from a GP or hospital specialist.
This third dose – which is different to a booster dose – is for people who had a severely weakened immune system when they received their 1st or second dose.
The NHS says that the vaccine ‘may not have given them as much protection as it can for people who did not have a severely weakened immune system’.
If you’ve had this third dose for people with a severely weakened immune system, you can have a booster dose from 91 days after your third dose.
How did the recent booster drive begin?
Boris Johnson declared an ‘Omicron emergency’ in a TV statement on Sunday at 8pm and warned people against thinking the variant will not make them seriously ill.
The Prime Minister then brought forward the target of offering a Covid-19 booster jab to every adult by a month. The target had previously been the end of January.
That has been brought forward to December 31, and the PM said everyone eligible aged 18 and over in England will have the chance to get their booster before 2022.
Mr Johnson also said that the UK Government will provide additional support to accelerate vaccinations in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.
People queue at a walk -in vaccination centre near Cabot Circus in Bristol this morning
How will the booster drive be achieved?
Mr Johnson said it will require an ‘extraordinary effort’ and thousands more volunteer vaccinators will need to be trained to hit the target.
He said the ’emergency operation’ will be assisted by deploying 42 military planning teams across every region and setting up additional vaccine sites and mobile units.
He said opening hours will be extended so that clinics are open seven days a week, with more appointments early in the morning, in the evening, and at weekends.
Will the booster drive affect other parts of the health service?
Yes. Mr Johnson said the focus on boosters and making the new target achievable will mean some other appointments will need to be postponed until the new year.
But he said that if this is not done now, then the wave of Omicron ‘could be so big that cancellations and disruptions, like the loss of cancer appointments, would be even greater next year’.
What is known about how effective two jabs are in comparison to three?
Analysis by the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) has found that the AstraZeneca and Pfizer vaccines provide ‘much lower’ levels of protection against symptomatic infection with Omicron compared with Delta.
But the UKHSA said a booster dose gives around 70 per cent to 75 per cent protection against symptomatic infection with Omicron.
How many people in the UK have Omicron – and how many jabs are needed?
The NHS will need to exceed 840,000 booster jabs per day in a bid to fight Omicron, which is causing around 200,000 new infections per day, the Health Secretary said.
Sajid Javid said yesterday that there are now 4,713 confirmed cases of Omicron in the UK, adding that the UKHSA estimates that the current number of ‘daily infections are around 200,000’.
He added: ‘While Omicron represents over 20 per cent of cases in England, we’ve already seen it rise to over 44 per cent in London and we expect it to become the dominant Covid 19 variant in the capital in the next 48 hours.’
Overall, there were a further 54,661 lab-confirmed Covid-19 cases in the UK as of yesterday morning, the Government said.
With 40 per cent of the population having already received a booster, there are still an estimated 17.2million people eligible for a third jab.
To be successful this would need more than 950,000 boosters to be administered every day – including Christmas Day and Boxing Day – until the end of the year.
What is the UK Covid alert level currently set at?
On Sunday, just hours before the Prime Minister’s address to the nation, the UK Covid alert level was raised to Level 4, up from Level 3, following the rapid increase in the number of Omicron cases being recorded.
The recommendation was made to ministers by the country’s four chief medical officers and NHS England’s national medical director after advice from the UKHSA.
TESTING AND ISOLATION
How can I pick up a lateral flow test?
You can pick up tests for free from a pharmacy or other collection point, which is the quickest way to get one for most people.
Visit the NHS website by clicking here, where you can find your local site. You can then click on ‘get a collect code’, and you are given a code to give to that centre.
How can I order a lateral flow test?
You can order a lateral flow test kit online by clicking here, although the NHS asks people to only order online if they cannot pick up a test.
Are there supply issues with lateral flow tests?
Yes. For the second day running, lateral flow tests are unavailable to be ordered via the Government website, although some were available in the early hours of today.
A message on the website this morning said there were no tests available for home delivery, although tests can still be collected from pharmacies.
Yesterday, the UKHSA said that ‘due to exceptionally high demand, ordering lateral flow tests on gov.uk has been temporarily suspended to fulfil existing orders’.
Ministers have insisted there is no issue over supply, but rather there are constraints on the delivery system for the tests.
They encouraged people to pick up testing kits from their local pharmacies. However, many people have reported that their local pharmacy is out of stock.
Britons can pick up lateral flow tests for free from a pharmacy listed on the NHS website
When should I do a lateral flow test?
The NHS advises you should take a lateral flow tests on ‘days when you’re more likely to catch or spread Covid-19’, such as before you mix with people in crowded indoor places, or visit someone who is at higher risk of becoming seriously ill from Covid-19.
Double jabbed adults are also now being asked to take a lateral flow test every day for seven days if they come into contact with someone with Covid-19.
When can you get a PCR test?
You can order a free PCR test kit to be sent to your home or book an appointment at a walk-in or drive-through test site, by clicking here.
You should get one if you have any of the main three Covid-19 symptoms – either a high temperature, a new and continuous cough or you’ve lost your sense of smell or taste or they’ve changed.
The Government says that if you have no symptoms you can also get a PCR test kit if:
- you’ve been in contact with someone who’s tested positive and you must self-isolate
- you’ve been asked to get a test by a local council or someone from NHS Test and Trace
- a GP or other health professional has asked you to get a test
- you’re taking part in a government pilot project
- you’ve been asked to get a test to confirm a positive result
- you’ve received an unclear result and were told to get a second test
- you need to get a test for someone you live with who has symptoms
- you’re in the National Tactical Response Group
Are there supply issues with PCR test?
Possibly. The Government website said at 11.30am that there were no physical tests available at walk-through or drive-through tests sites anywhere in England today.
However they were all back in stock by 12pm – and there was also availability in all regions of Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland, according to the website.
Home tests for the general public and essential workers can be posted to your home by clicking here, and should arrive the following day. These are in stock.
When do you have to isolate?
New guidance which came into force today says that fully vaccinated people who are in close contact with a confirmed Covid-19 case should take a rapid lateral flow test every day for a week to help slow the spread of the virus.
People who test positive or develop symptoms are still required to isolate, as are unvaccinated people who are ‘not eligible for this new daily testing policy’.
What were the previous recent changes to self-isolating rules?
From November 30, people identified as contacts of suspected Omicron cases were told they would have to isolate for ten days regardless of their vaccination status.
However, this has now changed and been replaced by the daily testing requirement.
What does self-isolation actually mean?
You must not go to work, school or public places – and work from home if you can. You must not go on public transport or use taxis, or go out to get food and medicine.
You must also not have visitors in your home, including friends and family – except for people providing essential care. And you should not go out to exercise.
The NHS advises people to exercise at home or in your garden, if you have one.
What are vaccine passports?
Mandatory vaccine passports are being introduced for all people aged 18 or over when visiting certain indoor or outdoor settings from tomorrow.
This means adults visiting the likes of nightclubs, large indoor events and large sports events will need this passport to gain access from tomorrow.
What if you are not fully vaccinated?
Proof of a negative lateral flow test will also be accepted after the Government said it had ‘considered the evidence since the emergence of Omicron’.
Mandatory vaccine passports are being introduced for people aged 18 or over from tomorrow
Where will vaccine passports be required?
The policy will be focused on settings where crowds mix and come into close contact. The Government has now confirmed this will include:
- nightclubs, dancehalls, discotheques and other late night dance venues. These are any other venues that are: open between 1am and 5am; serve alcohol during this time; have a dancefloor (or designated space for dancing); and provide music, whether live or recorded, for dancing.
- indoor events with 500 or more unseated attendees, where those attendees are likely to stand or move around for all or part of the event, such as music venues with standing audiences or large receptions;
- outdoor events with 4,000 or more unseated attendees, where those attendees are likely to stand or move around for all or part of the event, such as outdoor festivals; and
- any events with 10,000 or more attendees indoor or outdoor, such as large sports and music events
Why are vaccine passports being brought in?
The Government said vaccine passports could allow venues that have been closed for long periods since the pandemic began to remain open, and they are preferable to closing venues entirely or reimposing capacity caps or social distancing.
What settings would be exempt?
The Government has said settings that would be exempt from the passport requirements would include communal worship, wedding ceremonies and funerals.
Exemptions are also intended to apply to free, unticketed outdoor events in public spaces, such as street parties, protests and mass participation sporting events.
What can you use as a vaccine passport?
The NHS Covid Pass is accessible via the NHS App and NHS.UK and letter via NHS.UK or by calling 119, and is already in use in some settings to check vaccination status.
Will there be a vote in Parliament?
Yes. Boris Johnson faces the biggest revolt of his premiership today as a third of Tory backbenchers prepare to rebel against his Plan B vaccine passport measures.
As many as 79 Conservative MPs – equivalent to the Government’s working majority – are ready to vote against plans for the pass to be required for entry at larger venues.
Downing Street suggested that hospitality venues could be forced to close without vaccine passports, but critical MPs claim the ‘illiberal’ measures, will not work.
What is the situation in Scotland?
In Scotland, vaccine passports are already in force and have been since October, with people who are attending nightclubs, indoor events (unseated) with 500 or more people, outdoor events (unseated) with 4,000 or more people and any event with 10,000 or more to show they are double vaccinated before entering.
Since December 6, a negative PCR test taken within 24 hours of entry to a venue or a negative lateral flow test have also been accepted as part of the passes. Scotland’s Covid passes are called the NHS Scotland COVID Status app.
What is the situation in Wales
In Wales, vaccine passports are in force in cinemas, theatres, concert halls as well as nightclubs and large events.
They are also needed for unseated indoor venues with more than 500 people in the audience, outdoor or indoor unseated venues with a capacity over 4,000 and any event with more than 10,000 people.
The passes can be downloaded by people who are double vaccinated or have tested negatively within 48 hours of entering the venue.
Similarly to England, Wales uses the NHS Covid Pass.
What is the situation in Northern Ireland?
Northern Ireland has followed the same rules as Wales, which have been in place since November 29. Enforcement is being applied from today.
Residents who can download Covid passes include those who are double vaccinated or have tested negatively within 48 hours of entering the venue.
In Northern Ireland, the pass is called COVIDCert NI Mobile App.
What changes have happened to face mask rules in recent days?
The Government has now expanded the list of settings where face masks will be required. Since last Friday, face coverings became compulsory in ‘most public indoor venues, such as cinemas, theatres and places of worship’.
Where do you now have to wear face masks, since last Friday?
From last Friday the public, and staff in public facing areas, have been required to wear face coverings in these settings:
- community centres (including village halls), youth centres, members clubs and social clubs
- libraries and public reading rooms
- polling stations and premises used for the counting of votes
- places of worship
- crematoria and burial ground chapels
- visitor attractions and entertainment venues (museums, galleries, cinemas, indoor theatres, concert halls, cultural and heritage sites, indoor areas at aquariums, zoos and visitor farms, bingo halls, snooker and pool halls, amusement arcades, adventure activity centres, indoor sports stadiums, funfairs, indoor theme parks, casinos, skating rinks, bowling alleys, indoor play areas including soft-play areas)
- public areas in hotels and hostels
- indoor areas of sports stadiums
Where did you already have to wear face masks before last Friday?
The public, and staff in public facing areas, have also been required to wear face coverings in these settings since November 30:
- shops and supermarkets (places which offer goods or services for retail sale or hire)
- auction houses
- post offices, banks, building societies, high street solicitors and accountants, credit unions, short-term loan providers, savings clubs and money service businesses
- estate and letting agents
- premises providing personal care and beauty treatments (hair salons, barbers, nail salons, massage centres, tattoo and piercing parlours)
- premises providing veterinary services
- retail galleries
- retail travel agents
- takeaways without space for consumption of food or drink on premises
- shopping centres (malls and indoor markets)
- public transport (aeroplanes, trains, trams, buses, coaches and ferries), taxis and private hire vehicles
- any car or small van during a professionally delivered driving lesson, a practical driving test, or during one of the practical tests for giving driving instruction, and in all HGV lessons and tests
- transport hubs (airports, rail and tram stations and terminals, maritime ports and terminals, bus and coach stations and terminals)
Will face mask rules be brought in for pubs and restaurants?
No. The Government said there will be exemptions in venues where it is not practical to wear a face mask, such as when you are eating, drinking or exercising.
For that reason, face masks will not be required in hospitality settings.
What were the previous recent changes to face mask rules?
From November 30, face masks were made compulsory on public transport and in shops, banks and hairdressers in England – but not in pubs and restaurants.
That date marked the first time that face mask restrictions had been brought in for those settings under law since the lockdown officially ended on July 19.
Between those two dates, face masks were mandatory on the Transport for London network but only under the conditions of carriage and not under law.
This meant that until that point it was not illegal to travel on a Tube without a mask – but you could have be asked to leave if you were not wearing one.
Officials said masks were not extended to hospitality on November 30 for practical reasons, because you cannot eat or drink while wearing a mask.
How have the travel rules changed recently?
From 4am on Tuesday last week, everyone over 12 travelling to the UK needs to have taken a pre-departure test – either lateral flow or PCR – to prove they don’t have Covid-19. This test is mandatory, including for those who are vaccinated.
What if you test positive overseas?
Britons are advised to contact the British embassy or consulate for advice. You will have to abide by the quarantine rules that apply in that country.
This will involve a period of quarantine in a government-approved hotel or facility at your expense, which could run to several hundred pounds.
You will need to fund any medical treatment required. You can return home after testing negative, but will probably need to pay for a new flight.
What happens after you arrive home?
Returning travellers must self-isolate at home until they take a day two test. This must be a PCR test, which is booked before you travel and bought privately from a government-approved provider. You must self-isolate until you get a negative result.
What about travel insurance?
Some policies, such as those offered by the Post Office, include coronavirus cover. This will include trip cancellation and curtailment cover; overseas medical and repatriation costs.
What if you want to cancel a foreign trip?
You don’t have a legal right to a refund. But most tour operators and airlines will give you a voucher to re-book at a later date.
What countries are on the red list now?
Ten southern African countries have been added to the UK’s travel red list because of Omicron in recent weeks – Nigeria, South Africa, Namibia, Zimbabwe, Botswana, Lesotho, Eswatini, Angola, Mozambique, Malawi and Zambia.
Is the red list about to change?
Yes. All of these countries will be removed from the red list at 4am tomorrow, although the temporary testing requirements for all foreign travellers will remain.
What are the travel rules for red list countries?
You should not travel to red list countries for holidays. People returning to the UK from a red list country must take a pre-departure test and undergo a hotel quarantine for ten days, with a test at day two or eight.
Quarantine currently costs £2,285 for a single adult and £1,430 for a second adult.
These rules will no longer apply from 4am tomorrow. This means if you arrive from the red list countries after that time, you will not have to go into a quarantine hotel.