Health bosses in Fife say staff on the flu jab frontline are being subjected to unacceptable abuse from frustrated residents.
It comes after NHS Fife was forced to apologise when phone lines were swamped by 71,000 calls in the space of just two days as the programme got under way.
The authority says it is well on course to have carried out around 50,000 jabs by the end of this month after more staff were brought in.
However, it has also emerged that several call handlers and medics administering vaccinations have been the victims of abuse and aggression in the last fortnight.
NHS Fife chief executive Carol Potter said large inroads had been made in clearing the backlog of calls, emails and texts to its flu vaccination service, with around 30,000 appointments booked in so far.
“By increasing the numbers of call handlers available we can now answer three times as many calls each day and this has had a significant effect on our call volumes, which are now a small fraction of what they were initially,” she said,
“Importantly, more than 18,000 vaccinations have been carried out in Fife already and we are on course to have completed around 50,000 by end the October.
“We understand the frustration of those who have had difficulty arranging appointments and we thank local people for the patience and understanding they have shown.”
One woman said she was “absolutely fuming” after trying for two weeks to book an appointment for her elderly mum in Tayport, only to be offered a local session on December 10.
An alternative booking in Lochgelly was offered this week, but the resident said: “My mum has severely restricted mobility along with chronic pain and respiratory illness and she is dependant on me to get her anywhere.
“I’m a physiotherapist and have had to cancel two home visits for people who have been waiting six months to be seen by my service due to lockdown to be able to take my mum on a two hour round trip for her flu immunisation.
“Everything is wrong with this. My mum has me but there are so many elderly vulnerable people who can’t even begin to arrange their own appointment.”
A NHS Fife spokesperson said it had taken steps to make vaccination clinics and hubs as accessible as possible, with over 65s offered an appointment at their nearest cluster clinic and the option of using an Immunisation Hub if this is closer to home.
“In cases where a patient has mobility issues or is housebound, they can be vaccinated by their district nursing team as in previous years,” the spokesperson added.
“NHS Fife is also looking at the feasibility of other models of delivery, such as pop-up clinics to enhance delivery further.”
The chaos was caused after 70,000 letters were sent out in a single mail-shot and was exacerbated by a considerable number of calls from those who were not included but had expected a letter on account of an eligible health condition.
Only those who have already received a letter inviting them to arrange their flu jab – predominantly the over 65s – are being asked to contact NHS Fife to arrange an appointment in the first instance.
People between the ages of 18 and 64 with eligible health conditions will be receiving their letters in the coming weeks.