More than 26,000 people get the flu jab but NHS Grampian again apologises for problems with appointments
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More than 26,000 people in the NHS Grampian region have received their flu vaccination since September 28 - despite teething issues with the new system for delivering appointments.
NHS Grampian has again apologised to those who have had problems with their appointment letters or been left unable to contact its helpline - but said that efforts were now well underway to work through a backlog of calls.
A phone number and email set-up to deal with queries regarding the vaccination has been overwhelmed in recent days with patients looking to reorganise missed appointments – but also by those concerned they are yet to receive an appointment and with various queries about the new system.
NHS Grampian deputy chief executive, Adam Coldwells said: “To date the programme has successfully vaccinated over 26,000 people with a further near 1500 being added to that each day. The vaccination programme is being delivered in phases with eligible at risk groups being invited in an order based on that.
“Appointment letters for further phases are yet to be dispatched, leading some people to think that they have been missed.
“Over-65s are first priority as we know that age factors make you more vulnerable to effects of flu followed by people aged 18-64 who have certain health factors that also make them more vulnerable should they get flu.
“Patients will receive a letter from NHS Grampian with a date, time and location. This is a new process and we want to make sure everyone knows what to expect.
“We recognise this may be an anxious time, we are asking people to be patient and wait until they receive a letter rather than turning up without an appointment to enable us to deliver the vaccine to all those who are eligible safely.”
He added that work was underway to respond to anyone who had left their details either via the helpline or by email.
“We're working extremely hard to clear the back log and get back to everyone who has been in contact and apologise for the distress this may have caused.
“Initially we believed call volumes were driven primarily by letter delivery issues that we are closely working with Royal Mail to resolve that. However, having brought in additional resource to work through the backlog of messages, we have since found that a large volume of people are contacting us speculatively to find out when they will receive an appointment date,” he said.
“People who are used to booking their own appointments with GPs are contacting us with concerns around the new community-based model of delivery and we’d like to reassure them they will receive an appointment.
“We are therefore currently in the process of contacting everyone who been in touch and left their contact details, apologising for the delay in our response, prioritising and rescheduling any missed appointments and reassuring those who are eligible for the free flu jab but yet to receive a letter that they will have the opportunity to be vaccinated.”
While flu vaccine clinics are being held in schools during the October holidays, there will be further clinics into mid-December to ensure all priority groups are covered.
“These clinics are being set up now and letters to patients who have not yet received one will be out in the next three weeks.
“We know this is an anxious time and it is fantastic that so many people are responding and looking to ensure they have their flu vaccination.”
Elgin Academy was used last week as a base while Moray Sports Centre in New Elgin, which has already been utilised, will be used throughout November for patients of the Linkwood and Elgin Community surgeries.
Pregnant women living in Aberdeenshire and Moray will be offered their flu vaccination from their community midwife. In Aberdeen women will be invited to attend a vaccination appointment prior to their 12 and 20 weeks scans. Community Midwives will make arrangements through the immunisation team who will then make direct contact with those women.
Appointments are currently being issued for those aged between 2-5 years.