More than 500 staff vaccinated in NHS Lothian

Wednesday December 9th 2020

Royal-Infirmary-Edinburgh

Written by Local Democracy Reporter, Joseph Anderson

More than 500 NHS staff have been vaccinated already in Edinburgh and the Lothians, but health chiefs have warned the vaccine supply is changing ‘day by day’.

At a meeting of NHS Lothian’s board on Wednesday December 9, director of primary care transformation David Small gave an update on the roll out of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine in the area.

Mr Small told the meeting that the ‘controlled start’ of 500 is due to concerns over the availability of large volumes of the vaccine as it is distributed across the UK, and that the vaccination of members of the public won’t start until next year.

The health board is also storing some of its vaccine supply in anticipation of vaccinating care home residents in the immediate future, with a plan due to be finalised later this week.

Mr Small told the meeting: “As board members will be aware, we started the staff vaccination yesterday, the vaccine arrived in the country on Saturday and was distributed to our vaccine clinics on Tuesday morning.

“We deliberately went for a controlled start yesterday, so we did a total of about 500 people yesterday.

“We have about 4,500 booked up until Christmas. That number will continue to grow, but we are conscious about this because vaccine supply is day by day at the moment – it’s coming in small amounts and being distributed all around the country so we have to be conscious about how far ahead we can commit in terms of the volume of staff vaccination.

“The other thing we have to do is build up a supply and start to vaccinate care home residents, that’s another of the criteria in the chief medical officer’s letter that we received on Friday.

“So we’ve put some of the vaccine, as it comes in, to one side. We’ll have a plan by the end of the week about how we’re going to get to care homes, and that will be based on clear criteria around public health, control of infection, etc., and we’ll be discussing that internally before the end of the week.”

Mr Small also gave an update on the booking system used by NHS Lothian staff to make vaccination appointments, after concerns staff members were struggling to get through to the call centre.

The director said: “In terms of staff booking appointments, we’ve set up a call centre with 30 call handlers, it has been extremely busy as you can imagine, and there has been a degree of frustration in the system about not being able to get through.

“That will improve, and we’ve taken on improvements around the operating of the call centre to improve that process but there are still long queues, and the fact that we already have 4,500 people are booked means they are getting through.

“When we come to the public vaccination part of the programme in the new year, it will be a largely online booking system at a national level.”

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