THE delay for elderly people receiving their flu jabs is a “national scandal”, one woman has warned. 

Eileen Beaton and her husband Donald Stanley, whose known as Stan, are yet to hear when they will receive the vaccine. 

The pair, who have been married for 36 years, were not made aware of any changes to the vaccination system for the over 65s until Mrs Beaton contacted her GP surgery in Butterbiggins Road to question why the couple hadn’t been called for. 

It was then she was told of a new “hub” system which leave the city’s older people - many of whom were previously classed as the most vulnerable “shielding” category - weeks, or even months, late to receive the vital vaccination.

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Despite the 76-year-old having Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and her 86-year-old husband having dementia, she was told there was nothing she could do speed up the process but wait for an appointment letter as flu season rapidly approaches.

Mrs Beaton said: “I consider it a disgrace. With my husband having dementia, he would feel more comfortable getting it at his doctors because the doctor and nurses know him.

“I spoke to the health board and they said I would need to wait for a letter but another week has gone by and nothing has come. 

“I have young carers coming in and out to help us and I feel extremely vulnerable.”

She added: “We’re in the shielding category and we got a letter from the Scottish Government with a list of things to do to keep us safe, including get the flu jab and we can’t get on. 

“It’s a national scandal. The old folk are being neglected.”

GP surgeries typically handle the flu programme themselves, however, this winter is the first time responsibility has been handed to the health boards.

As revealed in our sister title The Herald yesterday, NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde (NHSGCC) has spent £2.2 million transferring the immunisations to health and social care partnerships (HSCPs), but opted to “utilise” the Scottish Immunisation Recall System originally designed for childhood vaccinations which prioritises youngest age groups first.

As a result, 65-year-olds are being immunised first, while those in their 90s could wait until the end of November or even December.

The revelation has sparked outrage across the city, with calls being made for the Scottish Government to step in.

Monica Lennon MSP said: “Older people in particular have been hit hard by the pandemic, and now it appears they’re being badly let down on flu vaccination too.

“This is a recipe for disaster and the Health Secretary and Minister for Older People must get a grip. I have written to them to seek reassurances on behalf of older people across Scotland, who are worried about Covid-19 and flu.

Glasgow Times: Monica Lennon Monica Lennon

“NHS Lanarkshire raised the alarm on flu preparedness months ago, and this should have been a wake-up call to Ministers. 

“The Scottish Government must take urgent action to protect lives and prevent chaos in our NHS this winter.”

A 73-year-old Drumchapel woman has backed the calls as she dreads the deadly flu season.

The woman, who asked not to be named, said: “My husband and I, about three years ago, were absolutely floored with the flu. It was horrible.

“Since then, I’ve always got my jab because I just don’t want to go through that again and the anxiety is even higher now with coronavirus. If I fall ill, I want to know whether I have the flu or Covid-19. 

“When I contacted the GP, I got the impression it was ‘oh, not another one who hasn’t had a letter’. It’s a shambles.”

Mrs Beaton added: “Carers and the vulnerable should be getting priority.

“I’ve tried desperately to get some help and I’m getting absolutely nowhere.

“I’ve tried to do it privately, but I was told I’d have to travel to Aberdeen. It’s awful.”

The health board insisted all over 65s will be offered an appointment before flu seasons begins in November.

In August the Scottish Government asked that NHS Boards and Health and Social Care Partnerships (HSCP) play a significant role in delivery of flu vaccination programme, which has been a significantly extended this year.

It was decided the need for “large scale vaccination centres” were needed to allow for better social distancing and infection control among the most vulnerable flu jab recipients. 

Those under 65 will continue to have their GP handle their vaccination.

Dr Linda de Caestecker, director of public health, said:  “We understand that people who are yet to receive their appointment letter may have concerns and we would like to reassure those in the 65+ age group that they will receive it in the next three to five weeks. The majority of letters for this group have already been sent and for some of our HSCP areas, most people in this age group have already received their vaccination.

“We, like other boards, are using a national immunisation system, which was established for other mass immunisation programmes. We opted for this system so that members of the public would receive an appointment date and time in their letter, rather than simply a request to contact the board to arrange their appointment.

“We are committed to ensuring that all of those who are eligible will receive their vaccination and I would personally like to provide reassurance to members of the public that they will receive their appointments in the coming weeks. 

“We have already seen thousands of people being vaccinated at our new community vaccination hubs and our team members look forward to welcoming many more in the weeks to come.”

Speaking at yesterday’s briefing, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said: “The Scottish Government, the health secretary and officials are engaging with health boards on an ongoing basis about the administration of the flu vaccine programme. All health boards are working through that.

“The absolute priority which everybody takes very seriously is to get everybody who is eligible vaccinated as quickly as possible. 

Glasgow Times: FM Nicola Sturgeon FM Nicola Sturgeon

“That’s our priority every year, even more important this year, and, also, there have been some issues raised around Greater Glasgow and Clyde that the priority within that of the order in which people are being vaccinated is appropriate as well.

“We’re engaging on an ongoing basis with health boards to make sure any concerns are being address and any issues properly resolved.”