Readers' Letters: Flu vaccine appointments system a shambles

On Sunday my husband attended his ‘flu vaccination appointment in Musselburgh. We live in Fairmilehead. Although older than him – we’re both in our late seventies – I have not yet received my appointment. I know of other couples where one had received an appointment and the other had not, but both attended in hope of receiving a vaccination, and both were vaccinated.
Why are married couples being sent separate flu jag appointments? (Picture: Marcelo Hernandez/Getty Images)Why are married couples being sent separate flu jag appointments? (Picture: Marcelo Hernandez/Getty Images)
Why are married couples being sent separate flu jag appointments? (Picture: Marcelo Hernandez/Getty Images)

However, I was turned away as there was not enough vaccine, which is understandable. We were told that nine out of ten couples had received separate appointments! This is unbelievable in times when we are trying to limit car use. We will have to make a further trip, probably around the City bypass again. We are fit and able, with a car, but not all older people are. It has been known for months that the ‘flu vaccination programme would be rolled out in the autumn, but that does not seem to have been enough time to put systems in place so that two people with the same surname, living at the same address, could be given appointments together, as was the case with the Covid-19 vaccinations.

It has also been known for months that venues previously used were no longer available as they were being used as Covid test centres, such as Napier Campus, Craiglockhart, where people from this area attended last year.

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It seems illogical that elderly Edinburgh residents should be asked to travel to Musselburgh, Gorebridge, East Calder, Queensferry or Ingliston, none of these easily accessible by direct public transport, while those living outside Edinburgh seem to be coming into the city for their vaccination.

Can anyone explain the reasoning behind this way of treating elderly people and disregarding the impact on the environment?

Isabel Graham, Edinburgh

Less than Great

Former EU Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier has challenged Boris Johnson's claims that Covid is solely to blame for the UK's present supply problems. Mr Barnier says these problems, including shortage of lorry drivers, pumps running dry, are all down to the UK's decision to leave the EU and choosing to end the free movement of people. He added that the PM "knew exactly what he signed" when he negotiated the Brexit International Treaty.

The consequences of Boris Johnson's poor deal include a disastrous outcome for the fishing, farming and food sectors in Scotland. This cosy Westminster cabal is now struggling to maintain Great Britain in the face of Brexit Britain, the Irish question and English nationalism while the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland is breaking up.

Grant Frazer, Newtonmore

Blame Brexit

So that’s all right then, George Storey has a friend in Germany who says there is a shortage of lorry drivers in Europe as well as UK (Letters 1 October). Well, we knew that already and we also know that despite a driver shortfall the EU countries have no shortages on supermarket shelves and no fuel crisis. We are also short of doctors, nurses, care staff, construction workers, vets, retail and hospitality staff, fork lift operators, fruit pickers, pig and poultry workers and butchers, to name a few, and no doubt pretty soon, also bakers and candlestick makers.

In Europe haulage companies and other industries have access to a much larger pool of workers, across 31 countries, due to freedom of movement. The Single Market enables border trade and travel with no hindrance or checks. Brexit eradicated all these benefits which will be long term – but never mind because we are promised our fish are going to be happy.

Graham Hay, Livingston

Herd different

In Last Wednesday’s Scotsman Conor Matchett reported that “Scotland is ‘nudging towards’ herd immunity as it approaches winter”. Additionally, Jillian Evans of NHS Grampian reportedly said ‘that “herd immunity – where enough people have enough immunity to a virus that its ability to transmit and reinfect is limited – was getting closer.”

An article in The Lancet Microbe of 1 October points to insufficient immunity following re-infection to stop transmission following infection recovery. It states: “The estimated median time to reinfection following peak antibody response for SARS-CoV-2 is 16 months (roughly half of infected persons re-exposed to the virus would be re-infected within 16 months). In particular, our estimate argues strongly against the claim that a long-standing resolution of the epidemic could arise due to herd immunity from natural infection. Our results caution that reinfection will become increasingly common as pandemic disease transitions into endemic disease.”

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The concept of herd immunity is best applied where the large majority of a population cannot transmit a disease due to lifetime immunity either because of vaccination or prior infection. This is not the case with Covid-19. It seems that current attempts to achieve herd immunity from Covid-19 are very unlikely to succeed. A real solution would be to improve vaccines to confer long-term immunity from disease transmission, else we must reconfigure society so transmission is largely eliminated to avoid the current 8,665 Scottish death toll endlessly increasing.

Ken Carew, Dumfries

A matter of maths

Jim Daly peddles the untruth that the make-up of Holyrood proves that independence is the wish of the majority (Letters, 4 October). Perhaps he ought to look more carefully at the actual number of voters who supported the SNP (and Greens) and compare it with those voters who did not – he might get an unpleasant surprise. As for the results of opinion polls, just what questions are asked, and of whom are they asked? In all my now considerable years, I have never once been canvassed about Scottish independence.

As Gill Turner has correctly pointed out, there is a legal requirement for any Scottish administration to support Gaelic (Letters, same day). Those who wish to speak it should certainly be given the support they need, but that aim does not justify the expense and sheer daftness of putting real or faux Gaelic names on every bit of public signage or Holyrood administration-generated publication. Doubtless this difference of opinion will rage on, as the Nationalist apologists attempt to draw attention away from the ever-growing mess that the SNP has made of our country.

EP Carruthers, Lockerbie, Dumfries & Galloway,

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Letters be patient

Two letters in yesterday’ Scotsman caught my attention. John Tavner (“Too many cuiks”) informs on the origins of Penicuik’s name as “Hill of the Cuckoo” from a language precursor of Welsh. However, language can be an awkward beast: the hometown of a friend from the Rhondda Valley is Penygraig, “Head of the Rock” in Welsh. So, could it be that Mr Tavner is from “Head of the Cuckoo”?

Meanwhile, in other Penicuik news, last week a procession of three police officers on quad bikes motored past my home on the edge of town to no obvious purpose (ie no royalty or high hiedyins in sight). So, to my namesake Mary Douglas (“Missing police"): Be patient, you know what they say about waiting for a bus!

Jim Douglas, Penicuik, Midlothian

Fuels Goldsmith

Environmental minister Zac Goldsmith has said the ongoing petrol crisis is a "good lesson” in the need for the dependence on fossil fuels to end (your report, 4 October). The rapidly escalating electricity and gas costs will lead to companies going out of business and fuel poverty for taxpayers. Our energy bills have for years had green levies added without the public being properly notified. These green levies are now well over £10 billion a year and rising. The growing unreliability of renewable electricity increases the cost of stabilising the National Grid so another £2bn a year is added to our energy bills.

Zac Goldsmith should note that over the last 143 days on average his beloved not-so-green wind turbines and sun supplied a miniscule 18.5 per cent of our electricity, whereas fossil fuels, 43.6 per cent, kept the lights on.

Clark Cross, Linlithgow, West Lothian

Money tree?

Neil Anderson outlines his green wish list (Letters, 4 September) and mentions expenditure of $100 billion. Where does he think that money – dollars or sterling – will come from? As most now realise, the UK and the US have been living on borrowed bank money for some time. This money, of course, attracts interest. But why would the banks continue to lend money to finance green dogma and expense that will cripple the very industry that earns that interest for them?

Malcolm Parkin, Kinross, Perthshire

Glass act

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You report: “Gerrard rages at [Ryan] Porteous over ‘leg breaker’ challenge on Aribo”, quoting Steven Gerrard having said: “....I have made a few [similar tackles] myself, so I am not in a glasshouse here” (Sport, 4 October).

Really? I must inform the Rangers manager that criticising someone for a transgression which he has committed himself is the very definition of: “People in glasshouses should not throw stones”.David Hollingdale, Edinburgh

Green faced?

Well, we all make mistakes, and Martin Dempster certainly made a whopper when he confidently predicted a European win in the Ryder Cup. I don’t know his line of reasoning for that rash forecast, but I’m hoping that he doesn’t move from golf into financial forecasting in the near future!

David Simpson, Glasgow

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