A senior official at the health authority has urged all remaining over-18s to visit their local drop-in vaccination clinic or book an appointment for their Covid-19 vaccine booster.
Those aged 12-17 are also welcome to attend any of the local drop-in clinics for their second dose if it has been at least 12 weeks since their first dose and they have not tested positive for COVID-19 in the past 12 weeks.
More than 76,920 people were vaccinated across Lothian in the run up to Christmas*, however appointments still remain across the region, allowing people the opportunity to receive their vaccination as soon as possible.
But there has been a shocking a rise in the number of missed appointments over the festive period, with 17% of people not showing up.
This has resulted in 9,951 available appointments going unused in the Lothian region over Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday this week.
The number of missed appointments was made public as it emerged Scotland had recorded 16,257 new infections – the highest since the pandemic began.
Pat Wynne, Director of Nursing for Primary and Community Care, NHS Lothian, said: “I would like to thank everyone who has come forward for vaccination so far, every vaccination counts towards making our region safer.
“Getting a booster doesn’t mean you won’t get COVID-19, but it reduces the chances of it and significantly enhances your protection against serious illness – it could literally save your, or someone else’s, life.”
“In recent weeks there has been a huge increase in appointments in Lothian, with 71% of those eligible for a booster having now received one. While this is excellent progress, we need as many people as possible to get boosted as quickly as possible. We want to get to, or as close as possible to, having 80% of eligible adults boosted by the Bells.”
NHS Lothian has also increased its vaccination capacity in recent weeks with the reopening of the Edinburgh International Conference Centre (EICC). I
Mr Wynne added: “We know that missed appointments are in part due to the number of Covid-19 cases in the area, which is in turn making people ineligible for their vaccination. But it’s not the whole story and, if I’m honest, it’s a little disappointing. We have a huge amount of extra capacity across Lothian with teams of vaccinators standing ready to ensure as many people as possible can get boosted by the Bells.
“We know people are really busy at this time of year, but we urge you to make time for it. If you haven’t been boosted but could be, because it is 12 weeks since your second dose, please book an appointment now or go along to a drop-in clinic. If you have an appointment for January, you can drop in now and your later appointment will be cancelled for you. There are plenty of slots available and our centres are running very efficiently with very low queue times.
“Please don’t delay. Every booster administered is a step on the road back to normality.”
The vaccination programme has been stepped up in recent weeks as part of its campaign to halt the spread of the Omicron variant across the region. Due to the highly transmissible nature of the new variant, NHS Lothian’s Director of Public Health, Dona Milne, is urging the public to act quickly as they welcome in 2022.
Dona Milne, Director of Public Health, said: “The Omicron variant is much more transmissible than previous strains. This means that although a smaller percentage of infected people may require hospitalisation, it is a smaller percentage of a far greater number of people, so still a lot of people.
“So, even if the admission rate is a third of what we have seen with previous strains, it is expected that the scale of Omicron could still be higher than we have seen before.”