Booster vaccination dates for some eligible groups appear to have been pushed back by the Scottish Government.
The NHS Inform website now states jabs for the “other eligible groups” – which includes adults over 50 and those between 16 and 49 who are adult, young or unpaid carers, living with someone who is immunosuppressed and those with underlying health conditions – will now be able to book their third dose from “mid-November”.
But an announcement by the Scottish Government on September 14 shows the intention to ensure these groups can book via an online portal from this month.
The guide, which allows Scots to choose from a list of categories which best describes their situation, also says third doses could continue into January.
The website, which was updated on October 15, said: “A booking portal will be available from mid-November.
“Vaccinations will start from mid-November and run through December and early January.”
Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Alex Cole-Hamilton accused the Scottish Government of “sneaking out” the changes.
“We know that caseloads are still far too high so there can be no excuses for these delays,” he said.
“The Health Secretary needs to tell the public what steps he will take to speed up this rollout.
“I am concerned that we have seen errors creeping into the vaccination programme.
“Elderly constituents are being told they need to travel out of town to get jabbed and there seems to be a lack of joined up thinking in not delivering flu jabs at the same time.
“Last winter we were facing an unprecedented pandemic. There can be no such excuses for the Health Secretary this time around.”
Scottish Tory health spokesman, Dr Sandesh Gulhane, said: “The SNP are sneakily shifting the goalposts on their own vaccination timelines. These documents show how they have quietly dropped their initial targets.
“When the SNP should be quickening the pace of the vaccine booster jag scheme at every turn, instead, they are slowing it down.
“Humza Yousaf needs to urgently step up his game and guarantee jags will be in the arms of those eligible as soon as possible.”
Scottish Labour’s deputy leader Jackie Baillie said: “It is clear that the rollout of the booster vaccine has been far too slow and needs to be accelerated rapidly.
“We are about to enter winter and the NHS is under immense pressure.
“That’s why all the stops must be pulled out to ensure older people, frontline workers and the immunocompromised get the booster as soon as possible.”
A Scottish Government spokeswoman said: “Our vaccination programme has always evolved to take into account feedback from delivery and operational colleagues.
“It is simply not true to suggest the changes we have made to the use of the portal have slowed down the booster rollout.
“Our initial intention was to make the online portal available for certain groups from mid-October but following feedback from health boards and other stakeholders we have adjusted our approach to help speed up the booster programme.
“Those over the age of 70 began to receive invitation letters last week, adults aged 60 to 69 and those aged 16+ with underlying health conditions will begin to receive vaccination appointment letters from late October.
“We will launch the portal for adults aged 50 to 59, unpaid carers 16+ and adult (16+) household contacts of immunosuppressed individuals from mid-November allowing those groups to book booster appointments online from mid-November.
“This will help maintain the pace of the vaccination programme as we enter the flu season by maximising the availability of scheduled appointments and ensure the efficient vaccination of people against both Covid-19 and seasonal flu.
“This follows advice from the JCVI, which has advised that the booster dose should be offered no earlier than six months after completion of the primary vaccine course.”