Organisers of new NHS flu jab centres in Edinburgh have blamed ‘teething problems’ for people being turned away and left waiting for hours on their first day of operation.
One person said they were forced to wait for an hour and a half in a queue of cars to get to one of the clinics.
Another labelled the situation an “utter shambles” with cars in gridlock and people being turned away.
The ten centres, set up by the Edinburgh Health and Social Care Partnership (EHSCP), are a response to the Covid-19 pandemic and will operate until December.
The first drive-through flu vaccine centres in Scotland, the EHSCP said they can vaccinate up to 500 people a day.
But some people were turned away on Saturday despite having been sent a letter inviting them to an NHS appointment at a certain time.
Pam Scott, 73, was turned away from the Napier University Craiglockhart Campus with her husband.
"We had been told to turn up between half past three and half past four, because it’s done by the first letter of your surname," she said.
“We turned up at ten to four and the road was was blocked, and they just said ‘You can't come in,’ and they didn't say why, and they didn’t say they would have more space tomorrow. They didn’t give any reason, we didn’t know if they had run out of the vaccine, or if there was some other problem, they didn’t say anything.
“We were reluctant to go back again [on Sunday] and spend a nice day waiting, because the same thing might happen.”
Ms Scott added that she had not been able to get a flu vaccine elsewhere.
"I went down to our local pharmacy, because they were one of the ones that were giving the NHS jab,” she said.
"But they just said ‘Absolutely not, our appointment book is full, and we’re not doing any more NHS jabs now or in the future’.
“So GPs aren’t giving them, my local pharmacy told us to go away, and I don’t know what’s going on with the NHS centres. So the only other option now appears to be the walkthrough in Princes St Gardens at the Ross Fountain in the first week in November, which is a long way away.”
Judith Proctor, Chief Officer of the Edinburgh Health and Social Care Partnership, said the issues were 'teething problems’ associated with the first day of operation.
"Yesterday was the first time that the flu vaccination programme has been delivered in this way in Edinburgh and we made a great start by vaccinating around 4,000 people,” she said.
"For the vast majority of people who attended our ten centres it worked well, but we do appreciate that there were some teething problems at two of the centres where more people turned up on the first day than we anticipated."Most people eligible for a flu vaccination have at least four dates to choose from. We urge the minority of people who attended a facility on Saturday but were not able to be vaccinated, to return for your vaccination on one of the other dates if you have not already done so.”
She added: "We would also advise those eligible to check the NHS Inform or your practice website before attending any walk through or drive through clinics, as these may be subject to change. This is the beginning of a programme to deliver 100,000 vaccinations. Feedback has been overwhelmingly positive so far but as always we'll always be looking to improve and adjust the programme as we go."
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