Coronavirus in Scotland: Target for over 80s vaccination to be missed as housebound elderly 'left behind'

Some housebound Scots over the age of 80 are set to receive their Covid-19 vaccine after the Scottish Government deadline of Friday, amid concern from family members of them being “left behind”.
88-year-old Trevor Cowlett receives the Oxford University/AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine from nurse Sam Foster. Picture: PA88-year-old Trevor Cowlett receives the Oxford University/AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine from nurse Sam Foster. Picture: PA
88-year-old Trevor Cowlett receives the Oxford University/AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine from nurse Sam Foster. Picture: PA

Appointments for several housebound over 80s in NHS Lothian due to take place this week have been rescheduled to the weekend due to busy GP practices and “difficult” logistics.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon confirmed at First Minister’s Questions on Wednesday that vaccinating all over 80s “was a target we’d set for Friday,” having said on Monday that Scotland was “ahead of schedule” to meet this.

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But the family of a housebound 100-year-old WW2 veteran in South Queensferry said he feels “left behind” by the process, having been waiting for confirmation of an appointment and finally being told on Wednesday afternoon that he would receive a vaccine on Sunday.

The daughter of the man, who preferred not to be named, said she was “disappointed” that her father had “waited for so long”.

"The housebound in Queensferry are waiting by their phones to hear [about their appointment], she said, and that is so sad."

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She stressed the local health centre has been “great” and is doing all it can to support locals who are housebound, many of whom will not be vaccinated until Saturday or Sunday.

Before her father’s appointment had been offered, a phone number was given out by Nicola Sturgeon during First Minister’s Questions on Wednesday for Scots to call it if they were “worried about your appointment or not having had your letter”.

However when she called the number those that answered said they were not the right people to contact about this.

"The caller expressed his concern and shock that someone that was 100 hadn't been vaccinated, but said there was absolutely nothing he could do, that it wasn’t the right number,” she said.

"It’s just really frustrating.”

She wants her father to receive a vaccine as soon as possible, as he must be regularly visited by carers and family members.

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“I do feel that because of his age, and his frailty, and his situation, really, he’s as vulnerable as someone in a care home. And yet they didn't make them [housebound over-80s] a priority – in fact, they seem to be last,” she said.

A spokesperson for the Scottish Government said they are “clear that we expect boards to deliver the vaccination to all over 80s by the end of this week,” adding: “anyone in a priority group who is worried about their appointment letter can contact the helpline.”

The Scottish Government did not respond to requests for comment about helpline staff being unable to assist.

Labour interim leader Jackie Baillie said at FMQs that constituents had contacted her to complain about the helpline.

"People that are emailing me right now to say that they're trying [to call the helpline] and they're not getting answers,” she said.

Colin Briggs, Director of Strategic Planning at NHS Lothian, said: “We would apologise to anyone whose appointment has been rescheduled and we would reassure them that these decisions are never taken lightly, and that they have not been forgotten.”

He added that GP practices are working “flat out” to administer jabs.

"The logistics can be very difficult to manage, particularly when practices are already very busy,” he said.

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