Covid booster jab Bristol: People who queued for five-and-a-half hours to get third vaccine described mood as ‘gentle’

Councillor Barry Parsons was among more than 1,000 people in line for the jab at Bristol Rapid Testing Centre

<p>Councillor Barry Parsons was among the people queueing at Bristol Rapid Testing Centre</p>

Councillor Barry Parsons was among the people queueing at Bristol Rapid Testing Centre

A Bristol city councillor has described what it was like to queue up for five-and-a-half hours to get his Covid booster vaccination in the city.

Councillor Barry Parsons was among more than 1,000 people in line for the jab at Bristol Rapid Testing Centre today.

The Easton ward councillor had turned up at 8.45am - 15 minutes before the centre in St Jude’s opened - in the hope of beating the queue.

But when he arrived, he discovered a line of people filling the centre and adjoining Office Outlet car parks, and snaking out and circling the area along Elton Street and Wade Street.

He joined the end of the queue near Wogan Coffee Roastery Shop.

“I knew it was going to be busy, but I was really surprised when I turned up - I’d not seen anything like it before,” said Councillor Parsons.

“People were quickly joining behind me and I knew I then had a long wait ahead of me, although maybe not quite five-and-a-half hours.”

Many people passed the time on their phones

Councillor Parsons, who is aged 43, said people filled their time reading their phones, listening to podcasts or even working on laptops.

“It was like a little gang of people you create around you to chat away to quietly as the queue slowly moves along

“The mood was gentle, people didn’t seem angry or restless.

“We were all keen to get in, get the jab and eventually go home - but at the same time not to cause a fuss.”

The queue was so long that at 10.15am, just over an hour after opening, people joining the line were told there was a risk they would be seen today, said Councillor Parsons.

The queue snakes around the car park of Office outlet

As the minutes and hours slowly passed by, the councillor completed a lap of the centre and several tours around its car park before finally going through the centre doors.

He said there were two lines of queue inside; one for walk-ins and one for people who had booked their jab.

On reaching a desk, Councillor Parsons had his identity confirmed before being asked questions about his health.

He said he was then ‘whizzed’ through the jab process before being sat down to wait for 15 minutes and then heading home in time to collect his daughter from school.

“Actually getting the jab went by in a flash compared to the time we’d waited,” he said.

People, some with children kept in an orderly line despite the long wait

Councillor Parsons said the experience had highlighted to him the pressure the NHS under after the Government set a target for all adults to be offered the booster jab by the end of the month.

In Bristol, there are only currently four walk-in sites offering booster jabs up to Christmas, currently.

Councillor Parsons said: “Clearly, the NHS is under extreme pressure and it needs more resources to meet the demand.

“The workers I saw were moving heaven and earth to help us - but they need more support.”

People eligible for the booster jab at walk-in clinics are those aged 30 and over, plus those with an underlying health condition or working in healthcare.

They must also leave three months after getting their second dose.