Booster chaos needs to be sorted to beat Omicron - Jane Bradley

Scotland is the most boostered nation in the UK, figures show, which is no mean achievement.

Getting an easy booster vaccine appointment can be a matter of luck.
Getting an easy booster vaccine appointment can be a matter of luck.

Increasing evidence shows that a booster vaccine is needed to protect against the Omicron variant, meaning that a concerted effort is needed to get needles into arms.

Yet people have told us that they have been turned away from busy vaccination clinics, despite having booked appointments.

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Others have complained of confusion around where and when (and if) booster drop in clinics are located. Many simply cannot find appointments at local centres.

A friend has not been able to get an appointment until after Christmas, despite being classed as clinically vulnerable – and already six months past her second vaccination.

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Whether or not it is easy to get a booster is a lottery. While in some council areas, drop-in clinics are widely available for boosters, others are limiting drop-ins to first or second doses - except when they’re not.

Last week, I popped into an almost deserted clinic at Edinburgh’s Ocean Terminal shopping centre, having been unable to clarify on the NHS Lothian website if boosters were available on a drop in basis there. When I arrived, signs proclaimed that drop ins were for first and second doses only, while boosters were by appointment. The next appointment at that site was in January.

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Undeterred, I joined a short queue and was quickly seated in front of a vaccinator. I told her that I had no appointment but needed a booster.

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"No problem,” she said and quickly popped a needle in my arm, no questions asked. When my husband tried his luck a few hours later, he was told that it was not a drop in clinic – but they would do his vaccination that day anyway.

Confused? I am and I write about the Covid crisis every day. Compared to the average person, I am well up on where to look for NHS information, on the latest government advice. Yet, I couldn’t easily figure out how best to get my booster vaccine – the fact I got one was down to fortune and a little bit of bare faced cheek.

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We are doing well with the booster roll out, there’s no doubt. But it seems like some of it may be more by good luck than good management.

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