Online portal extended and changes to flu delivery.
A range of measures are being introduced to speed up the COVID-19 booster programme, and give protection against the spreading Omicron variant.
The online booking portal will be open to everyone aged 18-29 from 10am tomorrow, allowing this age group to book booster appointments through the NHS Inform website.
Appointments are being added to the online portal daily and COVID-19 vaccination capacity is being increased over the festive period.
In order to increase the number of appointments, there will also be a prioritisation of booster vaccines over the remainder of the flu programme. This means anyone who is under the age of 65, or not in one of the high risk groups, will receive their COVID-19 booster only. This group will instead be able to get their flu vaccine in the New Year.
In line with advice from the four UK Chief Medical Officers, and in order to improve the flow of people through vaccination centres, people will no longer have to wait 15 minutes after receiving an MRNA vaccine. Instead, in Scotland the programme clinical governance group has recommended there is an observation period of five minutes, reflecting guidance from the Resuscitation Council.
Also, all NHS board areas are working to increase the availability of drop-in clinics - with a particular focus on the over 40s – and to identify larger sites that can be brought online in the coming weeks.
Health Secretary Humza Yousaf said:
“The most important thing we can all do to protect ourselves and others from COVID-19 is to get our vaccinations and boosters when eligible. The vaccines we have are highly effective and safe and I urge anyone who is eligible and not yet vaccinated to book an appointment.
“There is a massive national effort underway to ensure that all adults will be able to book a booster appointment before the end of the year. The steps announced by the First Minister today – which are proportionate and based on clinical advice - will help us towards that goal.
“Scotland already has the highest vaccination rate of all UK nations for first, second and third doses and we continue to follow clinical advice from the JCVI on offering booster jags through age cohorts in descending order to ensure maximum benefit.
“Demand for boosters may mean you may have to wait in a queue at drop-in centres but we urge everyone to be patient. We have plenty of supplies and are working with Health Boards to maximise vaccination capacity as quickly and safely as we possibly can.
“The emergence of the Omicron variant means it is also particularly important that we continue to take all precautions to prevent transmission. So test regularly for the virus, particularly before socialising and meeting up with others from outside your household, wear face marks where required and open windows to improve ventilation.”
To use the online portal, individuals will need their unique vaccination username which can be found on any previous appointment letter. If this is not readily available, it can be located or reset at NHS Inform’s “recover username” page. Those without online access, can book an appointment through the National Helpline 0800 030 8013.
Appointments must be booked at least 12 weeks after a second dose however adults with a confirmed case of the virus since receiving a vaccine should wait four weeks from testing positive to receive their booster.
The portal is already open to Health and Social Care Workers, the 30-59 age groups, unpaid carers who are 16 and over and those aged 16 and over who are household contacts of immunosuppressed individuals and will continue to be available to these groups.
Anyone in earlier groups who missed their vaccination can book an appointment by calling the National Helpline on 0800 030 8013 which is open from 8am to 8pm, 7 days a week.