NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde is investigating the reasons behind why many people scheduled for a Covid-19 vaccine over the weekend apparently failed to show. The SSE Hydro, located in the west of Glasgow, administers at least 4,000 doses a day with the ability to vaccinate as many as 10,000 people per day.
Reports suggested the number of missed appointments was “considerable” with as many as half of all those booked missing their jags.
Opposition politicians said the no-shows were “particularly worrying” for a city still in Level 3 Covid-19 restrictions following a recent spike in the number of cases.
The southside of Glasgow is also the centre of concerns around the so-called Indian variant of coronavirus (now called the April 02), which is believed to be more transmissable than previous mutations of Covid-19.
The Scottish Government said work was ongoing with all health boards to understand the level of appointments that were not attended and whether this is a localised issue or more widespread, while Health Secretary Humza Yousaf said this week would be “critical” in determining whether restrictions could be eased.
A spokesperson for NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde said: “We recognise that there were an unusual amount of cancellations and non-attendances for vaccinations at The Hydro over the weekend. We are looking into the details further to understand the reasons behind this.
“We strongly encourage everyone to take up the opportunity to be vaccinated once they are invited.”
The news comes as the Scottish Government attempts to pre-empt any further rise in cases of Covid-19 in the southside of Glasgow. This has included efforts to speed up its vaccine rollout programme in areas in the south including Pollokshields and Govanhill. Last week over-18s in such areas were offered their Covid vaccine earlier than planned in an effort to curb the outbreak.
Glasgow City currently has the second highest Covid-19 case rate in the country with 136.8 cases per 100,000 people, having recorded 866 new positive tests in the week ending 21 May.
Clackmannanshire now has Scotland’s highest case rate at 139.7 per 100,000, however the number of positive tests is much smaller at 72.
Reacting to the missed appointments, the Scottish Conservative shadow health secretary, Annie Wells, suggested issues around vaccination appointment letters being missed or not being received may be at fault.
She said: “We know that vaccinations are our best route back to normality so it is extremely concerning that so many people failed to turn up for their appointments.
“It is particularly worrying when the rollout has been ramped up in Glasgow due to the recent outbreak of cases in the city.
“The vaccination scheme has been an incredible success story across Scotland and the United Kingdom. However, SNP Ministers must be as transparent as possible when serious issues like this occur.
“There could be a number of reasons as to why people didn’t turn up for appointments, but unless SNP Ministers are upfront then we won’t know why slots were ultimately not taken up on the day.
“If there are any issues with people receiving their appointment letters on time, then SNP Ministers must give health boards the resources to ensure that people’s details are fully up-to-date.
“That is even more important now as we encourage younger people to take up the vaccine and ensure we can safely ease restrictions in the coming weeks.”
Young people under the age of 30 can now register for a vaccine appointment following the launch of a new online form by the Scottish Government.
The website allows those aged 18 to 29 to register with NHS Scotland for a vaccine appointment and receive a date and time via email and/or text message, provided they are registered with a GP.
Over 30s are also able to check when they are set to receive a jag using a similar online tool.
Alex Cole-Hamilton, the Scottish Liberal Democrat health spokesperson, urged young people to register for a vaccine and called on the Scottish Government to do more to ensure people register.
He said: “Younger age groups are more likely to move frequently and have less contact with their GPs so the government should be exploring a range of options as to how they can get people registered and get their jab.
"There are tens of thousands of young people desperate to get vaccinated who have not had that option yet. The pandemic has taken away too much for too long, if we want to go back to our normal lives, we need to get vaccine coverage as high as possible.
"The vaccine is our best weapon against the virus. If you did not receive your letter, please check with your GP. I strongly encourage everyone who can to book their appointment and get their jab."
Labour’s Jackie Baillie said the reports were “worrying”.
"It's vital that people do everything they can to get their vaccine - we all must roll up our sleeves when the time comes. But the fact of the matter is that the Scottish Government must be prepared to do all that it can to support health boards in the roll-out of the vaccine.
"The success of the vaccine programme is a top priority and the Scottish Government must keep its eye on the ball."
Mr Yousaf received his first dose of the Covid-19 vaccine on Monday at Caird Hall in Dundee and urged people to attend their appointments.
He said: “We have seen, I’m afraid to say, a slight increase in those who are not attending appointments.
“So my really strong message, my urging, my plea, would be to please attend and if you can’t attend the appointment you’re given of course you do have details where you can switch appointments, rearrange and reschedule, which is really important to do.”
To date, 3,108,819 people in Scotland have received their first jag, with 1,828,930 having received their second dose.
Responding to the concerns around missed appointments, a government spokesperson said work was ongoing to ascertain the reasons behind the drop in attendance.
They said: “We are aware of reports that a higher than normal number of people did not attend their vaccination appointment at the Hydro in Glasgow over the weekend.
“Work is ongoing with all boards to understand the level of appointments that were not attended and whether this is a localised issue or more widespread. This will enable us to continue to ensure everyone has access to a vaccine.”
Scotland is lagging behind Wales and England on the percentage of first doses administered with 70.4 per cent of all eligible adults receiving a first dose, latest data shows, with the country just ahead of Northern Ireland.
It is also in third on the basis of second doses with 41.8 per cent of adults given a second dose, ahead of Wales but behind England and Northern Ireland.