Appointments cancelled as concern grows over Covid vaccine supply in East Dunbartonshire
Concern is growing over an inadequate supply of the Covid-19 vaccine to local GP practices as the roll-out to the over-80s continues.
One 89-year-old woman who was due to receive her jab last week was told it couldn’t go ahead. She was not given a new date.
Many others are still waiting for an appointment.
The concern follows an update to councillors by East Dunbartonshire Council boss Ann Davie on the area’s covid vaccination programme on Friday, January 7.
The report said the initial supply being delivered “is not sufficient” for all 7,100 of the over-80s living in East Dunbartonshire.
As a result, the report said, the most vulnerable over 80s, identified by GPs, would be vaccinated first, followed by age order, with the oldest.
By the end of last week, a number of people posted on the Herald’s Facebook page of issues over their appointments. Vaccinations have been taking place at a mixture of GP surgeries and local town halls.
Former East Dunbartonshire Provost Una Walker posted: “My 89 year old neighbour was initially told to attend on Monday 18 January. Next day she was told that would not happen as insufficient vaccines had arrived! She is still waiting for a new date!”
A local woman’s elderly relative had a similar experience. She posted: “My gran lives in Bearsden and has had her appointment cancelled twice due to a lack of stock.”
While some posted their relative had had the first jab administered at Milngavie town hall, others said they were still waiting and one added: “My GP told me on Wednesday that she was unable to carry out her scheduled vaccinating due to a shortage of supplies.”
One GP health practice employee added: “We have to wait on deliveries and we are not given much warning. As soon as delivery arrives, clinics are arranged.
“There’s variability in when practices are receiving supply - some have vaccine and others simply don’t.”Dr Andrew Buist, chair of BMA Scotland GP committee, told the BBC Politics Scotland show on Sunday, January 17, that the delivery of the Covid vaccine to GP practices across Scotland had so far been inconsistent.
He said GPs could not make appointments for patients until surgeries had taken delivery of the vaccine.
He added: “We can’t plan – that’s the key thing. We have to make sure we have the vaccine in the fridge.
“We can’t send out appointments to patients until we know we can definitely vaccinate them. Otherwise, patients get very upset and distressed and anxious, quite rightly.”
Both East Dunbartonshire Council and NHS Greater Glasgow refused to comment to the Herald on the shortage of supply. But the Scottish Government, which wants to vaccinate all over 80s in Scotland by February 5, acknowledged there had been delays.
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said in the Scottish Parliament on Tuesday there were ongoing challenges but targets would be met.
A Scottish government spokesperson said the country’s chief pharmaceutical officer had contacted Dr Buist to discuss with him the ongoing concerns.
In addition, it said, all GPs would be receiving a letter explaining in more detail “the mechanism of supply, ordering and delivery, with suggested solutions at local board level that can also assist them”.
A spokesperson added: “GPs have a significant role to play in delivering the vaccine – and we thank them for their hard work and patience as we roll out more vaccines to those in the communities.
“We are in regular contact with boards to ensure GPs have the most up to date information on when supply is available and what our expectations are for them, providing as much detail as we can while rightly allowing our teams to focus on the task of delivering the biggest vaccination programme ever seen in Scotland.
“We too want to vaccinate as many people as quickly as possible and are continually working hard to see if distribution can be made faster in any respect.”
Individual GP practices in East Dunbartonshire who are not vaccinating within their practices, will contact their patients, via the telephone, to invite them to attend a centre on a specific date and time.
Locally, this will be Milngavie town hall.
East Dunbartonshire Council said in its covid update report that the council has arranged priority parking bays at each venue for the most vulnerable residents.
The Army are also helping to establish 80 new Covid vaccine centres across Scotland. The Ministry of Defence (MOD) said earlier this week soldiers were being deployed to identify suitable sites and aid deliveries of the vaccine.
The soldiers are from the Royal Army Medical Corps and Leuchars-based Royal Scots Dragoon Guards.