Jag ‘shambles’ claim amid two hour delays at rammed centre and people being turned away
Fed up residents have branded the booster vaccine programme at Ingliston a ‘shambles’, with claims of two hour waits in the freezing cold and people being turned away if they have already had their flu jag.
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Scores of people attending the Centre have complained to MSPs reporting delays of up two and a half hours to get vaccines.
People with scheduled appointments gave up and left over the weekend due to significant delays, while it’s understood some left after being told by staff that people may not be seen if they were only attending for the booster and not getting their flu jag at the same time.
But local politicians also said the rammed centre saw people turn up with no appointment, after being advised by national helpline to just turn up due to a lack of available appointments in the Lothians with the next available not until well into December or January.
Lothians MSP Miles Briggs has warned ‘something has gone badly wrong’ in the Lothians and demanded answers from health board chiefs.
The reports have sparked fears of further delays in getting the vital booster jag to older people, as health researchers have warned the vaccines offered "decreased protection" over time, and that it was important for immunity to be boosted before winter.
One woman who attended Ingliston with her husband said: “We are in our late 60s and drove to Ingliston on Friday. We arrived early for a 4.40pm appointment. At the car park a marshall advised us that there was a two and a half hour delay and we were welcome to leave and come back another time. Of the six or so cars that rolled up with us we were the only ones to persevere. We thought next week could be worse with the people coming back to try again and the already obviously heavy quota.”
She said the system was a 'shambles’ and said other couples in the centre left before getting their booster vaccines.
“There were seven rows of people standing in the hall and it was freezing cold,” she said.
"We were there over two hours but finally got our boosters. Outside people were arriving on buses and some of them just left. It must be possible to make this process more humane.”
Fiona Fraser, from Edinburgh, added that she was four weeks overdue for her Covid booster jag.
"I am eligible but I can’t get a vaccine until I have the letter inviting me to,” she said.
“I spoke to someone on the phone yesterday. She admitted there has been an “error” where people had a flu vaccination. But people had been short of the time to be eligible for a
booster. Apparently I will get my letter next week - five weeks late. But who knows when the appointment will be.”
The 74-year-old said she was ‘incensed’ by the process and the Scottish Government’s handling of it.
"We’re all being told how urgent it is to get a booster,” she said. “I am incensed that the First Minister and Health Minister are urging people to come forward for booster vaccines and making it all sound that everything has been handled so well. If I lived in England I could go to a walk-in clinic.”
MSP Miles Briggs said: “Urging people to get their boosters and then having the appointment system in chaos is unacceptable. Flu vaccinations and boosters are certainly not being handled well. It puts frontline NHS workers in a very difficult position, because they are all doing their absolute best, but the system isn't working.
"I’ve heard from people being told by the helpline to turn up even if they don’t have an appointment so that will be creating additional pressure, it’s a total mess.
"I have reported the issues to the Health Secretary, Humza Yousaf and have been seeking answers from NHS Lothian about what has gone so badly wrong in Edinburgh."