Fife’s chaotic early handling of its flu jab programme has eroded confidence the forthcoming Covid-19 vaccine will be rolled out effectively.
The concern was raised by Scottish Liberal Democrat leader and North East Fife MSP Willie Rennie, who has been alarmed by the response to his office’s call for public views on the region’s immunisation project.
Of dozens of respondents, more than a fifth said they had lost faith in NHS Fife’s ability to issue Covid-19 shots based on their experience of the flu jab, while 63% reported a negative experience in booking their vaccine. Some had to wait two months after securing an appointment.
Two people also claimed to have made more than 40 attempts before eventually managing to make a booking, while there were a number of others who failed to get a reply to e-mails and/or texts.
Mr Rennie said it is more crucial than ever health chiefs in Fife have learned the lessons of the last few months.
“We must take these case studies, offered by constituents of North East Fife, very seriously,” he said.
“Those who have struggled to book and then had to wait in excess of a month and a half for the jab, in particular those in vulnerable groups, is unacceptable.
“The information provided by those who have had their jabs or are still waiting even now, have sounded the alarm of the early warning system for the Covid vaccine roll out.
“We must now work much harder to be prepared for the Covid vaccine.”
Carol Potter, NHS Fife chief executive, said a detailed report went before the health board last month outlining lessons learned to provide assurance around its planning and processes for any future mass vaccination programmes.
“The report outlines the changes in the national seasonal flu delivery model this year, the impact this has had on local resources and covers the range of mitigating arrangements that were rapidly deployed to address the initial issues associated with the first round of flu vaccinations.
“To date more than 90,000 flu vaccinations have been carried out across the Kingdom.
“As the country is mobilised to embark on the biggest ever mass vaccination programme, detailed planning is already underway for the phased and safe delivery of the covid-19 vaccine across Fife, prioritising those most at risk from the effects of the virus.
“We will use the lessons learned from the review of our seasonal flu programme to ensure we are ready to respond when the Covid-19 vaccine becomes available.”
The survey results came after 56 people responded to the call for experiences over a three-week period in October and November.