Edinburgh drive-through flu jab centres set up due to Covid-19 pandemic to take pressure off NHS this winter could be ‘blueprint’ for future vaccination delivery

Drive-through flu jab centres will be running in Edinburgh from the end of September to make vaccination more accessible and take pressure off the NHS this winter - and it could be the ‘blueprint’ for delivering vaccines in future.
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Nine drive-through sites - which can each vaccinate up to 500 people a day - will be set up across the city at places like Easter Road stadium, the Scottish Government building at Victoria Quay and Edinburgh Bioquarter in Little France.

Flu jabs will also be administered at some GP practices and hospitals, schools, community pharmacies and various walk-in clinics, with practices alone not able to give flu vaccines to everyone required due to the Covid-19 pandemic and the need to keep social distancing.

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According to the NHS Inform website, the drive-through centres and walk-in sites will initially be for anyone over the age of 65, in a clinical risk group, those who are pregnant, a young or unpaid carer or those living with someone who has been shielding. However, it is unlikely anyone else who is eligible for a free flu jab will be turned away.

Flu jabs will be administered at a number of drive-through sites around Edinburgh this winter. Pictures: Emy1622/Michael715/Shutterstock.Flu jabs will be administered at a number of drive-through sites around Edinburgh this winter. Pictures: Emy1622/Michael715/Shutterstock.
Flu jabs will be administered at a number of drive-through sites around Edinburgh this winter. Pictures: Emy1622/Michael715/Shutterstock.

Several GP practice websites across Edinburgh now tell patients which site to go to and provide a list of available dates and time slots, to be allocated based on the first letter of your surname to prevent traffic queuing. Those without cars, including cyclists, can attend the walk-in clinics.

David Small, director of Primary Care Transformation at NHS Lothian, said: “This year’s flu vaccination programme will be one of the most important. Our aim is to maximise the proportion of the population protected against flu and to minimise the risk of people having flu and Covid-19 simultaneously.

"In order to make it as straightforward as possible for the increased number of people eligible to get the flu vaccine this year, we are planning to offer wider and easier access across Lothian. Our Health and Social Care Partnerships are finalising plans on how this will be delivered in each area.

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“The plans will see a mix of venues including GP practices, ‘drive through’ locations, community pharmacies and community clinics all being deployed to ensure we immunise as many people as possible and protect NHS capacity.

"Flu can be serious and with COVID-19 around it's more important than ever to get the flu vaccine to protect our communities and the NHS."

‘Blueprint’ for the future

Advice published on several GP websites in Edinburgh says that, for those visiting drive-through clinics, short sleeves should be worn and that people should have their sleeves “rolled up by the time you get to the front of the queue” and that all eligible people from the same household should come at the same time if they can.

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Here's a full list of all 9 Edinburgh 'drive-through' flu jab centres running th...

The person receiving the jab does not need to leave their car and, afterwards, drivers will be asked to park in spaces set aside and wait for 15 minutes before driving off to make sure there is no early reaction to the vaccine.

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The team giving vaccinations are trained professionals who will be wearing protective clothing and equipment.

Judith Proctor, chief officer for the Edinburgh Health and Social Care Partnership, said: “As part of our mission to support a caring, healthier and safer Edinburgh, The Edinburgh Health and Social Care Partnership is committed to making it even easier to get a flu vaccine this year. The flu vaccine is an important health protection measure and we want to make sure that everyone who is eligible has access to the vaccine.

“To keep the people of Edinburgh safe, and to respect physical distancing measures, we have confirmed a range of Edinburgh venues to offer access to the flu vaccine, including a drive through service at sites across the city. This is the first time a drive through model has been used for vaccinations in Scotland, and could provide a blueprint for how to deliver vaccination programmes successfully in the future.”

Details are yet to be provided from other Lothian health and social care partnerships on their flu vaccine delivery programme.

Who can get the free flu jab this winter?

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This year, 120,000 adults across Edinburgh are eligible for a free flu jab.

With the added risk of Covid-19, the Scottish Government has expanded its vaccination programme so that more groups than ever before will be eligible. This means social care workers, people aged over 55 and household members who are shielding will now be able to get the seasonal flu vaccine. The government will also look to extend it to those aged 50-54 should vaccine supplies allow.

The full list of people eligible includes: All primary school children; children aged two to five (children aged two on September 1 and not yet in school); anyone aged 55 and over; anyone with a health condition; those living with people shielding; pregnant women; healthcare workers; unpaid and young carers; social care workers who provide direct personal care.

Health boards across Scotland will be delivering the expanded vaccination programme and will be taking a phased approach, allowing boards to begin vaccination for different groups, prioritising those at most risk.

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People in the ages 55-64 programme and who do not fit into any of the other above categories will get a vaccine later in the year.

Housebound patients will be contacted by a GP practice staff member to arrange a visit, while most primary school children will receive the flu jab at school.

Children aged two to five will get their flu vaccines at special centres set up around the city, and parents and guardians will be sent letters with times and locations.

Details of where people can go to receive a flu vaccine will be available on the NHS Inform website.

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Lothian MSP Miles Briggs (Scottish Conservative) said: “Maximising the number of people who receive a flu vaccination this winter is a welcome move to reduce the impact of Covid-19”

“In previous years there have been issues around the distribution of the flu vaccine, which we can’t afford to happen this year.

“It is vital the flu vaccination programme is carried out effectively.”

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