Covid Scotland: Patients turned away from booster jag appointments amid confusion over JCVI rules

Patients are being turned away from booked vaccine appointments amid confusion over the gap required before they are eligible for a booster jag.

People already eligible to book a vaccination online, have reported being turned away from appointments after medical staff told them they need a 24-week interval since their second dose.

This comes two days after the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) recommended the interval between a second dose and a booster vaccination should be reduced to three months from six months.

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Health secretary Humza Yousaf said on Tuesday he would “encourage” people who have already booked an appointment for six months after their second jab to move it forward. First Minister Nicola Sturgeon also told MSPs that she had already moved her own booster jab appointment forward from late December.

A nurse prepares a coronavirus vaccine.

While details of how the booster programme will be expanded to all adults have not yet been published, many people already had access to the vaccination portal due to being aged over 40, or in a priority group due to underlying medical conditions – even if they were not yet at 24 weeks past their second vaccination.

The Scottish Government apologised to those who had been turned away and said that protocols would be updated “urgently”.

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Leah Stalker wrote on Twitter that she had been turned away from a vaccination appointment in Aberdeen because her second jag had been just 23 weeks before.

She said: “Just been turned away from vaccination centre with booked appointment in Aberdeen as it’s been 23 weeks since my 2nd jab. Had it been 24 weeks they’d have vaccinated me.

“Yet the JCVI guidance is now 12 weeks and we’ve got a potentially challenging variant on the go?”

Another patient, Andrew Learmonth, wrote on Twitter that he had been refused a vaccination in Glasgow.

He wrote: “Just got turned away from my booster jab at Glasgow Mosque. Even though I had an appointment, even though the JCVI advice say I'm eligible, NHSGGC not letting anyone in unless there's 24 weeks between second jab and booster appointment.”

However, Walt Adamson replied that he had not yet reached 24 weeks since his second dose and has had no problems obtaining a vaccine.

He wrote “I got my booster at Glasgow Mosque yesterday. I booked it as soon as I heard that they were dropping eligibility to 3 months after jab number 2. I don't hit 24 weeks until 15/12/21. No quibbles from the staff.”

Scottish Conservative shadow health secretary, Dr Sandesh Gulhane, said: “Patients are rightly frustrated and confused over mixed messages coming from the SNP Government on booster vaccine eligibility.

“The JCVI changed their advice on the length of time between doses two days ago, but the SNP are dragging their heels on putting this into practice in our NHS.

“No-one that is eligible to get their booster jag under current guidance should be turned away from vaccination clinics.”

Scottish Labour’s Health and Covid Recovery spokesperson Jackie Baillie said: "This is nothing short of a shambles. The need to accelerate our booster programme has never been greater, so we cannot have people being turned away.”

A Scottish Government spokesperson said clinical and legal guidance needed to be changed following the JCVI advice.

He said: “This has been progressed urgently and instructions have now issued to all health boards to vaccinate in line with the latest advice.

“The new guidance is also being updated on the NHS Inform website.”

He added: “We apologise to those people who have been keen to get their booster vaccination and attended before the necessary protocols were in place.”

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