Patients from the new cohort group are now able to book their own time slot in advance and choose their venue for their lifesaving Covid-19 Booster and flu vaccine.
People aged 50 to 59, unpaid carers over 16 and household contacts of an immunosuppressed person are being urged to log on to NHS Inform and book their Covid booster and flu jabs for November/ December.
At the same time, more people aged 60-69 across Lothian will continue to receive an appointment letter for a slot within the next week or two.
Extra staff are being recruited and capacity has been boosted across Lothian to service the next phase of the expanding programme.
The online booking portal is available at www.nhsinform.scot/vaccinebooking and those without online access can book by calling 0800 030 8013.
Nearly 150,000 appointments have already been made available on the national portal for people to book throughout this winter and this number will continue to rise each week.
To date, across Lothian 213,806 doses of the flu vaccination and around 173,191 Covid-19 booster vaccines have already been delivered. This is in addition to 708,605 first and 650,663 second doses of the Covid vaccine.
Pat Wynne, Nurse Director of Primary and Community Care, NHS Lothian said “All of our teams are working phenomenally hard to ensure they can continue to deliver the lifesaving vaccines as quickly as possible during this next stage.
“It is no small task – the teams are administering different types of first, second, third and booster doses of the Covid vaccine and the flu vaccine at the same time as drop-in clinics and during pre-arranged appointments to people of all ages. The logistics of this vital work are complex and we are really grateful to all of them for the work they are doing.
“Vaccination is the best way to protect yourself and loved ones from the viruses and will help to reduce additional pressures on the NHS this winter.
“We urge everyone who is eligible to make sure they take up their appointment. Whether they keep the slot on their letter or make their own appointment through the online portal or on the national telephone helpline, we need them to get vaccinated.
“If you are an Edinburgh resident and are able to travel, please book your appointment at Edinburgh’s mass vaccination centre at the Royal Highland Centre, Ingliston. This will ensure appointment slots are available at more local vaccination for those who need them.”
The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) has advised that people aged 40-49 will also be eligible for a Covid-19 booster.
They will be offered the booster vaccine once the earlier agreed priority groups have had their injections to ensure the most vulnerable groups are offered protection first. They will be able to book their own appointments using the online portal.
The JCVI has also advised that young people aged 16 and 17 years old will also be eligible for a second dose of the Covid-19 vaccine and a timetable will shortly be confirmed.
NHS Lothian is working closely with the four health and social care partnerships which are responsible for the delivery of the programme - flu vaccination is no longer being carried out by local GP practices.
The number of available local venues is being extended, with the launch of a drop-in clinic at Ocean Terminal, and vaccination clinics are being streamlined to increase capacity as teams prepare for the next intake.
Lowland Hall, for example will boost the number of available appointments from 17,000 appointments per week to 19,000, by increasing vaccination stations from 26 to 35.
The launch of the portal comes as the remaining people in Lothian aged 70 and above and those at highest risk are being invited to step forward for appointments during the last two weeks in November.
Patients are being urged to keep their appointment once booked, but if they cannot attend they are being urged to reschedule by calling the national vaccination helpline. They can also book an appointment using the same number of access help and advice on 0800 030 8013.