In order to accelerate the pace of vaccination in the coming weeks, NHS Grampian will be offering more appointments and longer clinic sessions in the next phase of the national COVID-19 vaccination programme. This has meant a need to review the venues originally planned with a small number of changes.

Outreach clinics in Alford and Ellon will not be used for the next phase of the programme. Instead, staff at those facilities will move to the larger sites, enabling longer clinic sessions and the capacity to give more injections each day. This will see the mass vaccination clinics – the Fiona Elcock Vaccination Centre in Elgin and P&J Live at TECA –operate seven days a week. The vaccine centre in Huntly will now operate every week, rather than alternate weeks.

Director of Pharmacy David Pfleger said: “I know this move will be disappointing for those communities who will see activity paused at local centres. It is certainly no reflection on the support we have received from these sites, who have gone above and beyond to meet our requirements.

“This is a mass vaccination programme aiming to vaccinate every adult in Grampian and designed to protect as many people in the north-east of Scotland as possible, as quickly as possible. However, in order to accelerate the programme in the most effective and efficient manner possible, we need to concentrate our teams and our vaccine supply in fewer centres.

“I appreciate there may be some anxiety about travel to clinic appointments and it is really important to remember the following: vaccine appointments are classed as essential journeys. It is possible to get a lift from someone, provided you follow the safe car sharing guidance. We are also working really closely with THInC (Transport to Healthcare Information Centre) and our Third Sector partners to ensure a full range of community transport options are on offer, if public transport is not feasible. Information on how you can access this support is included in appointment letters.”

NHS Grampian is now using the national booking system for vaccination appointments. People can expect to receive an appointment letter detailing the date, time and location of their first dose of the vaccine. If they need to change their appointment there is a telephone number in the letter for them to call to make new arrangements. The national booking system will soon also be offering an online option if residents need to make a change. Appointments for the second dose of the vaccine will be sent out after the first dose has been administered.

David added: “People are strongly encouraged to take up the appointment offered and make the necessary arrangements to attend. If you are not going to take up the offer of an appointment, it is vital that you cancel the appointment using the instructions in the letter of appointment you receive. This will reduce the number of empty appointments due to people not attending clinics and enable us to vaccinate those that do wish to be protected with a vaccination. Missed appointments lead to missed opportunities to vaccinate others, and to vaccine waste as they have a very limited shelf life.”