'We are banging our heads against a brick wall here' - woman, 69, still waiting for Covid-19 vaccine

The family of a woman who has not had her Covid-19 vaccine has said it is shocked after being told she is not on the system and to ‘call back in a couple of weeks to complain’.

Sunday, 11th April 2021, 7:00 am
Updated Sunday, 11th April 2021, 11:11 am

Bernice Shiels, 69, from Craigentinny, Edinburgh said she is furious after her family first called the national helpline more than five weeks ago – and filled in a form online but have had no response.

The mum-of-three lives alone and has not seen her family since December 2019.

In Scotland, those aged 65 and older were in the first priority group in the rollout of the vaccination programme.

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A city councillor has branded the situation “unacceptable” and called for urgent action to get the Mrs Shiels vaccinated.

It comes after the Evening News revealed how a problem with the central national database, which generates appointment letters, was contributing to vaccine delays in the Lothians.

Sources at NHS Lothian said delays were being caused by a problem tallying up information from two primary lists - data from GP surgeries and national health records in Scotland.

Mrs Shiels’ daughter, Lesley, has called the national helpline for her mum several times but after calling back this week, she was told Mrs Shiels was still not registered on the national vaccine database.

Bernice with her daughter Kirsty and grandson George. Picture: contributed
Bernice with her daughter Kirsty and grandson George. Picture: contributed

She is furious after being told to call back in a couple of weeks to complain.

Lesley, who lives in north west England, said: “We are banging our heads against a brick wall here. We had no reply to the email we sent weeks ago to NHS inform.

"Then when I called again to chase it the other day the adviser said, give it another couple of weeks and then call back and complain about it. I was shocked. I live in Carlisle and haven't seen mum since December 2019. She lives on her own.

"We were told at first she needed to re-register with her GP so we did that. Now more than a month later we are no further forward. Mum is so fed up. For someone in her age group to still be waiting when she should have been vaccinated back in February, it’s not right.”

Mrs Shiels, a retired cleaner, said: “I’m getting really angry about this now. I can’t understand why they can’t fix this. I’m stuck at home by myself. I do manage to get out to the shops to get my messages but I only go when it’s quiet. I haven’t seen my grandson in nearly a year and a half. I will be 70 in May.”

Joan Griffiths, Labour councillor for Craigentinny, said: “This is not acceptable. I understand that people can get missed but once contact has been made and they have been alerted to this it should have been picked up and acted upon. They should have responded urgently. What disturbs me is that nobody seems to have picked this up and resolved the mistake. I can understand her family’s concerns, they don’t live near their mum and must be very worried on her behalf.”

NHS Lothian and NHS National Services have been contacted for comment.

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