Booster programme takes off

Queuing for the jab

With some government concern about a “lacklustre rollout” of the Covid vaccine booster programme, the prime minister has urged everyone over 50 to get their booster jabs when they get the call.

The booster programme has had a rather hesitant start, as initially, some older patients were unable to secure an appointment. But this week, the national booking service (NBS) seems to be fully operational and has had its busiest week of bookings. Nearly half a million jabs were booked nationally for sessions this week. Centres across the country have suddenly been very busy.

At the Tilling Green centre, after a couple of quieter weeks, we are seeing unprecedented numbers. Over 550 came through in seven hours on Tuesday. Even after a wait, most who attended were delighted to get their jabs. Importantly, our willing volunteers exercised great teamwork to manage the process. With some patients having mobility or other serious clinical issues, the process can take time and demand a significant attention by everyone.

The NHS will continue to contact all eligible patients, full eligibility details were covered last week, to offer vaccine.

To help the Rye centre plan, patients in every category are encouraged to book via NBS online or by calling 119.

Tilling Green vaccination centre

Image Credits: Anthony Kimber .


  1. It is good that the Covid booster vaccination is being done locally, and that it is under way and sooner than the original vaccinations. However, I am wondering how the appointment system is actually working. An elderly and frail friend, had an appointment, yet had to wait over an hour after the allotted time before receiving the vaccination. People were there without appointments and were being ahead of them, and there seemed to be a slight element of chaos. I, and they, fully realise that there will be some delay between the appointment time and actual jab, but that should really be about 15/20 mins, as it was at Etchingham. An hour, is not good, and the person concerned was quite exhausted by the end. I am due to have my booster next Wednesday, at 11.20am, and wonder what I will experience. As I say 15/20 mins is fine, but an hour, with non-appointments entering the system at the same time is not good. If one wants to fit in people who find it difficult to make appointments, then have a day when it is first come first served: that would be fair on those who have made appointments through the official system. Should I arrive early, in order to cut the waiting time? If this way of operating, with appointments and non-appointments, being treated the same, why make an appointment?
    I do appreciate that this is a complex process and that every credit is given to those working to achieve this booster roll out, but I feel life would be easier for them, if the appointment and non-appointment could be handled differently. The person giving the jab, apologised profusely to the elderly friend for the long delay after the appointed time, but it was not their fault at all.
    Have any other people experienced the above and put forward suggestions to alleviate the issue?

    • We had appointments for our boosters this week and were somewhat surprised that appointments and walk-ins were being jabbed at the same time. My appointment was at 9.25 and at that time there was no queue to speak of but when I left this was already starting to build. My husband’s appointment was at 2 in the afternoon and the queue was of biblical proportions. There was a certain amount of resentment among those that had made appointments as these were rendered irrelevant by the two-tier system. There was even more resentment for those people who went straight to the front of the queue “because they had an appointment”. As Allen above says, while we are immensely grateful for this local centre, separate sessions for appointments and walk-ins would reduce long waits for those who bothered to make an appointment.

  2. Those of us giving effort and time to delivering Pfizer vaccine at the Rye Vaccination Centre are grateful for any constructive comments to help us refine the process. On peak days, we have seen over 500 patients vaccinated in a process that routinely presents significant logistic and management challenges. Behind the scenes there is always much to do to keep on track.
    The booking system is national and we have no control over it. We simply respond to demand set by NHS England. After about two weeks when the booking system had faltered and we were waiting for patients, on Tuesday it came back into operation to present some particular challenges. In 7 hours we vaccinated well over 500 eligible patients , some of whom had not been able to secure bookings in the preceding period. Rye was not the only centre affected, but our operation was also disrupted by the unexpected . Mid session we lost a key vaccinator through non Covid illness. Many of our patients were less able, adding more processing time.
    For the 50 or so volunteers, committed to delivering the service, fortunately positive comments far outweigh the negative. Just today we vaccinated a grateful couple who had struggled to secure an early appointment elsewhere.
    As some patients have said, a relatively short wait in Rye is preferable to lengthy travel to another centre where waiting times might be no shorter.
    Our message is to continue to book your jab via the NHS system or by telephone 119. If you are eligible, you will get vaccinated in the Rye centre.

    Anthony Kimber PhD

  3. I must report that I have had a call from Anthony Kimber, and last week was an exception, because the NHS computer seemed to push appointments all to one day, and then many turned up without. I did not quite grasp the IT issues, but Anthony re-assured me that all is now back to normal and next week’s appointments should be roughly on time. They had about 400 turn up last Tuesday and stayed open to get them all done.
    I wish to thank Anthony publicly for getting in touch and explaining it to me, and I want to pass this on for all going for their booster next week. You should be seen on time, give or take the usual few minutes.

  4. For my part, it was a great relief we did not have to travel again to Etchingham, we did not mind waiting, delighted to see so many wanting the jabs and, importantly very grateful for the amazing army of volunteers at the centre who dealt with everyone with great courtesy. Thank you all

  5. I had my booster on Wednesday at Rye. Appointment was for 10am. I arrived around 9:45 as I wasn’t sure what the parking situation was. I was fortunate to be able to park on site and went in more or less straightway. The couple in front of me had an 11am appointment, however there was only a minimal delay. There was a long queue when I exited and I spoke to a lady I knew who had arri ved early due to bus timings. However so much easier than going to Aylesham and Folkestone as I had to previously (jabs were arranged via work and Rye wasn’t running)! Well done Rye.

  6. For some of us being able to access a third vaccination is not made easy. I have a medical condition which requires me to have a third vaccination. I am also a full time carer for my husband who is disabled, in a wheelchair and has dementia. For the first & second vaccinations I was able to book for us both to attend at the the same time. Oh no, not this time. I received a letter telling me to contact my doctor or consultant. I couldn’t use the online booking system or 119. The surgery website told me I had to attend a walk in centre, the nearest offered being Hastings. It also gives a telephone number but they can only book in appointments in Hastings. I live at the top of Udimore Road. How ridiculous is it that I’m expected to travel to Hastings. I’ve booked my husbands booster at Tilling Green, I’m just hoping they will be able to give me my third vaccination at the same time. To drive over to Hastings means I’ve either got to take my husband with me, put him in the wheelchair and take him into the vaccination centre or ask someone to sit with him at home. What a waste of time, energy, petrol.

  7. Some very kind words here, which will please many involved with the Rye Vax Centre. The Team from Clarity Chemists led by Ankit, the vaccinators from varied clinical backgrounds, the pool of 55 or so volunteers supported by people from Rye Partnership continue to strive to deliver Pfizer to the local area. We have had around 15000 patients through since the end of May and I am sure that there will be many more to come.

    I am looking forward to 12 November when Rye Town Council will formally mark the extraordinary commitment of all the volunteers.

    Anthony Kimber PhD

  8. Please to help the parking issue, use the Rother car park at Gibbets Marsh. Leave the close places for the infirm and wheelchair bound. Thank you for lovely run vacination centre. I am clerk of Rye Foreign Parish Council having read last weeks news I walked there and back.
    Thanks to all the injectors and volenteers I am very gratefulr not to drive to Etrchinham or Hastings.


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