The reason behind the high level of no-shows is still being looked into by the Scottish Government, although it may be related to a number of appointment letters not having been sent out in time.
There may be a particular cause for so many no-shows, but patients not turning up to their vaccination appointments is not a new problem.
Vaccine take-up has reached 100 per cent in very few JCVI priority groups. In the more recent groups to be vaccinated this may be because patients are still waiting for a letter, or have been missed from their cohort, but in earlier groups it is more likely to be out of personal choice.
Among over 80s, 65 to 69 year olds and 55 to 59 year olds, a small percentage of people – between one and two per cent in each case – have not received a first dose.
The gap is around three per cent in older care home residents, and eight per cent in frontline healthcare workers with specified roles.
It’s worth noting that population estimates are approximate, so very small figures like these should be taken with a pinch of salt. In some cohorts the dose coverage has reached over 100 per cent, as the population is larger than the estimate.
Despite this, Covid vaccine take-up has been extremely high – reaching even 92 per cent is far higher than most vaccine rollouts, and well exceeds the initial Scottish Government target of 80 per cent take-up.
The Scottish Government has not made detailed information about vaccine appointment no-shows available to the public, or released figures in response to requests from the media.
Officials have said they are working with Public Health Scotland to monitor the data which is reported.
Appointments which are not attended are more likely to be for second doses, as this is where the data reveals wider gaps.
Currently in Scotland, all over 70s should have been given a second dose of vaccine, as first doses for this cohort were completed more than 12 weeks ago.
But around three per cent of over 70s who took a first dose haven’t taken a second – almost 25,000 people.
In a cohort this size it is inevitable that some people may become unwell or unable to take another dose during the 12 week gap, but this becomes less likely in the younger age groups, which are also affected.
More than 30,000 frontline health and social care workers have had a first dose of vaccine but not a second – around eight per cent.
The gap is largest for frontline social care workers in specified roles – 13 per cent of those who took a first dose have not taken a second.
In some cases the lack of a second dose may be for a reason outside of the patient’s control, but the deliberate lack of attendance of second doses is certainly a concern for NHS Scotland, with several campaigns to encourage take-up, and drop-in clinics launched in some areas to make the step as easy as possible.