Calls for more appointments as Fifers struggle to get dates for Covid/flu jags

Calls have been made for an increase in COVID and flu vaccination capacity after Fifers encountered problems trying to book appointments - and found the earliest were not until December.
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The winter vaccination programme was launched last week, with over-75s and people with weakened immune systems offered appointments at specific-times, and other eligible groups being invited to book through an online portal.

But, online bookings were temporarily suspended due to the identification of a new Covid variant in Scotland and the decision to offer vulnerable groups appointments earlier than previously planned. Now, some people in the 65-74 age group are now facing lengthy waits to get their jags.

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One said: “It’s ridiculous. It took me almost 20 minutes to get through to make an appointment and the first available was December. If people are not getting appointments until then, everyone else is going to be pushed back to January or February at the end of winter which is concerning and not acceptable.”

Changes were made to the appointments after the discovery of a new variant of covid (Pic: TSPL)Changes were made to the appointments after the discovery of a new variant of covid (Pic: TSPL)
Changes were made to the appointments after the discovery of a new variant of covid (Pic: TSPL)

Now the issue has been raised by Willie Rennie MSP for North-east Fife.

He said: “The winter vaccination programme is absolutely vital to protecting people from Covid and flu, and also minimising the pressure of these diseases on the NHS during its busiest time of year. We all want it to progress as swiftly and efficiently as possible.

“I have heard from constituents who are understandably concerned and frustrated at the problems with booking their vaccination appointment, with the prospect of getting their jabs three months later than last year and fifteen months since their last booster.

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“The decision to reschedule the most vulnerable is important, but every effort must be made to ensure that other groups do not have to face long waits as a result. The capacity of the vaccination programme should be increased in response and to ensure that appointments are available in North East Fife.”

NHS Fife said the issues related to the national decision to change the sequencing for vaccination for older people and those with weakened immune systems due to the identification of a new variant. People not in highest risk groups were unable to book appointments for a few days, but the portal has re-opened.