By Lucy Ashton
Jackie Baillie has demanded answers from those running the vaccination programme in West Dunbartonshire after at least one pensioner left the queue at the Alexandria leisure centre without getting their jag due to the lack of vaccinators.
On both Friday and Saturday, there were lengthy waits at the Alexandria vaccination site, despite residents being given allocated timeslots.
The Dumbarton constituency MSP has been contacted by a number of constituents affected including the daughter of one woman from the Alexandria area who was so tired standing and unable to wait any longer she left the queue without getting her vaccination.
Jackie Baillie said: “The vaccinators are working really hard but there were simply not enough of them to cope with the number of people invited to be vaccinated. Asking older people to stand for hours at a time, outdoors, is not practical.
“We have seen this all before. Why were lessons not learned when we saw pensioners waiting in the rain last year at this same venue for their Covid jags?
“I have written to NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde and Cabinet Secretary for Health Humza Yousaf to find out what has gone wrong and what steps are being taken to sort this problem out before more people are affected.
“I thank the vaccinators who are working extremely hard to get jags into the arms of those most vulnerable to Covid but it must be disheartening when they are faced with such massive queues. It’s not their fault they are being overwhelmed by the number of people invited to attend.
“It is incredibly worrying that because of this shambles, at least one woman has left without even getting her jag. Vaccination is the best way to avoid serious infection from Covid and to protect people during the flu season. The health authorities should be doing all they can to encourage people to attend for their boosters and that means ensuring that there are enough vaccinators.”
At the weekend, Jackie Baillie demanded urgent action after yet another blunder in Helensburgh and Lomond with the vaccination programme left elderly people waiting up to two hours for their Covid vaccine in Helensburgh.
Residents in the town were made to join lengthy queues on Wednesday, September 22nd having been lettered with an appointment for their booster.
However it later emerged that hundreds of local people were given identical appointments.
The Dumbarton constituency MSP, RIGHT, contacted Argyll and Bute Health and Social Care Partnership immediately to establish what had gone wrong and seek assurances that the problem would not be repeated.
Earlier this year, elderly people were given appointments for vaccinations which would have meant a 130-mile trip away, some of which would have been by boat.
Jackie Baillie said: “This is a complete shambles. It is unacceptable that we have older people queuing for up to two hours to get their vaccination.
“This is not the first time that there have been issues locally. I had already written to the HSCP to urge them to learn lessons from the mistakes in the past but it is clear basic mistakes continue.
“I have been back in touch with them to seek assurances that the vaccination programme will run smoothly from here on in.
“It is important that people attend for their vaccination to give them the best protection from becoming seriously ill from Covid and there should not be barriers in their way to getting this jag.”
One woman, 83, who contacted the MSP told how she had heard that hundreds of people had been given the same appointment time. She said: “When I got there, I thought ‘what’s going on’. You couldn’t count the people all the way down the street. I waited for an hour and 50 minutes.
“It was all elderly people. It was terrible. It was the same last year. No-one even said sorry.
“I have been getting flu jags since I was 60 and it was done by Helensburgh medical centre and there was never a problem.”
Picture: Jackie Baillie and Scottish Labour leader Anas Sarwar.