Covid Scotland: Says Scottish government ‘moved goal posts’ on recall schedule

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The Scottish government has been accused of ‘moving the goalposts’ over the deployment of the Covid booster.

Questions have been raised after an update on the NHS Inform website said eligible patients could book an appointment online “from mid-November”.

However, when the recall plan was unveiled in September, the Scottish Government said online booking would be open to those over 50 and those aged 18 to 49 with underlying health conditions from mid-October.

Adults over 70 started receiving dating letters last week.

It comes as the decline in Covid cases in Scotland has stalled, with the number of confirmed infections peaking at around 2,500 per day since October 6.

Scottish Conservative Phantom Health Secretary Dr Sandesh Gulhane MSP said: “The SNP is slyly shifting the targets of its own immunization schedules. These documents show how they quietly abandoned their original goals.

“When the SNP should speed up the pace of the vaccine booster program at every turn, it slows it down instead.

“Humza Yousaf urgently needs to step up his game and ensure the jags are in the arms of eligible people as soon as possible.”

A Scottish government spokeswoman said it was “just plain wrong” that changes to the online booking portal slowed down the rollout of the reminder, but confirmed that appointments will only be open to people aged from 50 to 59 years old than in mid-November.

She said: “Our initial intention was to make the online portal available to certain groups from mid-October, but following feedback from boards of health and other stakeholders, we have adjusted our approach to help. speed up the recall program.

“People over 70 started receiving invitation letters last week, adults aged 60 to 69 and those aged 16 and older with underlying health conditions will start receiving letters appointments for vaccination from the end of October.

“We will be launching the portal for adults aged 50 to 59, unpaid caregivers aged 16 and over, and adult family contacts (16+) of immunocompromised people from mid-November, allowing these groups to take online reminder appointments from mid-November.

“This will help keep the pace of the vaccination program as we move into the flu season by maximizing the availability of scheduled appointments and ensuring people are effectively vaccinated against Covid-19 and seasonal flu.

“This follows advice from JCVI, who advised that the booster dose should not be offered earlier than six months after the end of the primary vaccination cycle.”

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It comes as Scottish Labor spokesperson Pat O’Kane wrote to Health Secretary Humza Yousaf to express concerns about access to seasonal flu vaccines, which are given in most areas. of Scotland by boards of health through community centers, rather than general practitioners’ offices.

In his letter, Mr O’Kane said he was contacted by voters living in Barrhead or Neilston who had been given appointments at a clinic more than 15 miles away in Port Glasgow on a Sunday .

Those who are eligible for the boosters are also supposed to be offered their flu shots at the same appointment.

Mr O’Kane said: “Many are elderly, have multiple health issues and are very concerned about the lack of public transport problems to Inverclyde from East Renfrewshire, especially given the industrial action in course in the railways on Sunday.

“A voter told me that due to mobility issues associated with a stroke, he would be physically unable to travel the distance to receive his jab.

“I was also told that when voters tried to get another date closer to home, they were offered West Dunbartonshire, which is even further away.”

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Mr O’Kane added: ‘We are not yet in winter, but the NHS is already in crisis.

“If we are to avoid making this crisis worse, then we must see a rapid, effective and successful roll-out of the influenza vaccination and booster program.

“But voter evidence has revealed that many, including the elderly and the disabled, are being asked to travel tens of kilometers to be treated.

“It is ineffective, impractical and, as winter approaches, potentially dangerous.”

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