'No problem' with Covid-19 vaccine appointment letters, says health secretary

No issues have been identified with Covid-19 vaccine appointment letters in Scotland, health secretary Jeane Freeman has said.

Scottish Health Secretary Jeane Freeman
Scottish Health Secretary Jeane Freeman

It comes after many Scots aged 60 to 64 took to social media this week to say they had not received a letter, but on calling the national vaccine helpline had been told they had an appointment already scheduled which they had not been notified of.

Many of those raising the issue were based in Edinburgh and the Lothians.

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Labour MP for Edinburgh South Ian Murray said he had seen evidence of a “significant problem” with vaccination letters in Edinburgh.

"Yet again the Scottish Government denies there is a problem, when the reality on the ground is much different,” he said.

“Many people have only learned of their appointments by calling the helpline and that is simply not good enough. It could go some way to explaining why Edinburgh is behind every other area in Scotland

“Rather than denials, ministers need to get a grip. It’s too important to get wrong.”

Conservative Edinburgh city centre councillor Jo Mowat wrote on Twitter: “Hearing of problems with letters being sent out with appointments for vaccination in Lothian – if you are aged between 60-65, due for COVID-19 vaccine, live in Lothian not received an appointment letter then phone 0800 030 8013.”

NHS Lothian said the vaccine appointment letters are the responsibility of the Scottish Government.

Asked about the reported problems with appointment letters during the coronavirus daily briefing on Friday, health secretary Jeane Freeman said she was not aware of any issue.

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“At this point we've not identified any system problems, but we will continue to look and make sure that the vaccine management tool, and the booking system are working well together, and that we're getting that information out to people as quickly as we possibly can,” she said.

“We are constantly discussing with Royal Mail to make sure that the delivery schedules at their end are working well with us and, and they have been really helpful partners in prioritising those blue envelopes."

Ms Freeman advised those aged 60 to 64 who have not yet received a letter not to call the vaccination helpline.

"Personally I would wait, maybe into the early part of next week, and if you haven't had your blue envelope then phone the helpline and see if they can help you in terms of knowing whether or not you've got a booking,” she said.

She added that the Scottish Government will always investigate and try to resolve any problems with the vaccination programme.

Ms Freeman announced that 1,844,636 in Scotland have so far been given a first dose of Covid vaccine, while almost 150,000 have received a second dose.

Some 46 per cent of 60 to 64 year olds have been given a first dose so far.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon announced earlier this week that vaccination of the 55 to 59 year old age group will begin next week.

The national Covid-19 vaccine helpline can be reached on 0800 030 8013.

Royal Mail has been approached for comment.

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