NHS Highland has today (Friday 5th November) announced it will hold more clinics for the rollout of Covid-19 booster vaccines for Skye, Lochalsh, and Wester Ross residents as it seeks to address widespread worry and confusion among vulnerable groups awaiting the jags.
The health board’s statement comes at the end of a week in which many west Highland residents have been left in the dark over when they would receive the latest dose of the vaccine.
Earlier this week, NHS Highland told the Free Press that software problems were to blame for their inability to log vaccine booster appointments for members of vulnerable groups across the region, including Skye and Lochalsh.
Commenting on Friday, a spokesperson for NHS Highland said: ” We know patients have experienced difficulty in getting through to the Vaccination Hub.
“The software issues experienced at the beginning of this programme have been resolved and we are pleased to say that an appeal for more colleagues to assist the Hub Team has resulted in offers of support which will help us in operating these phone lines.
“We will roll out vaccination over the coming weeks, prioritising the over 70s, the clinically extremely vulnerable and the severely immunosuppressed and working through other eligible groups.
“Clinics have already taken place in Portree and Kyleakin and further clinics for these areas are planned through November. Patients will be invited by letter but more information is available on our website.”
Speaking to the Free Press on Thursday, Dunvegan resident Nan Cleghorn – who turned 80 in September – expected to receive her booster jag almost a month ago having been give her second dose at the start of April.
She said that the uncertainty over when she would get it had left her close to tears.
Nan finally got confirmation of her appointment on Friday afternoon but said that long wait had been tough to take.
“It has been quite scary as I understand that the protection the two doses of the vaccine has given me gets less and less,” she told the Free Press.
“I thought, ‘I’ll be alright’, but I am 80 years old, and I know that my immune system is not as strong as a younger person.
“I could have sat down and cried.”
She added: “I am relieved but not happy with the stress and worry that this delay has caused.”
In its statement on Friday, the health board said that in Skye, Lochalsh and South West Ross it will be delivering the vaccination clinics for following GP practices: Broadford Medical Practice; Carbost Medical Practice; Dunvegan Medical Practice ; Gairloch Health Centre; Portree Medical Centre; Sleat Medical Practice; The Surgery, Aultbea.
It went on to add: “Eligible patients with these practices will be invited by letter or asked to call the Vaccination Hub. Appointments can also be rescheduled via the NHS Highland Vaccination Hub. Please only call the Hub if you have been asked to.
“Other clinics are being run by your own GP practices and they will get in touch with patients directly.”
The statement also said: “All patients over 50 registered with Gairloch and Aultbea will be invited for their vaccination with clinics taking place week beginning 29 November.
“Further clinics for this area will be scheduled shortly and we will issue information to the media and via our website and social media when they have been set up. The majority of patients will be invited by letter.
“We will continue to assess the demand for vaccination and, if required, schedule in more local clinics.”
For more information, you can visit the NHS Highland website by clicking here.
Article by Adam Gordon, images by Willie Urquhart, and Hakan Nural on Unsplash.