HELENSBURGH and Lomond residents eligible for Covid booster vaccinations will receive appointment letters from next month, according to health bosses.

As the Advertiser reported last week, the Argyll and Bute health and social care partnership (HSCP) has decided to organise the third doses itself – even though local practices, which were entrusted with the job of giving people their first and second jags, said they were willing to take on the task of booster vaccinations too.

Surgeries in Helensburgh, Kilcreggan and Arrochar all voiced their disappointment at the move, while Advertiser readers raised concerns over when and where they were likely to receive their booster jags.

Christine Woods said: "Taking booster doses away from GPs may be ok for the HSCP but a real disaster for ourselves.

"As older people are we expected to visit two different venues at different times for the flu jag and Covid booster?

"Our GP practice (Millig) has been fantastic for their organising and administering our earlier Covid vaccinations, why can't we have both vaccinations under their care?

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"Does the HSCP not appreciate the financial implications and travel challenges within our area for double visits to vaccination centres?"

In a letter to Pam Dudek, NHS Highland chief executive, Helensburgh resident Geoffrey Atkins and his wife, both 75, said: "According to NHS Inform we should receive an invitation letter or may be contacted by our GP and offered a flu vaccination and a Covid-19 vaccination together.

"We were given our flu vaccinations this morning [October 9] at a clinic organised by our local GP practice, but our doctor advised that the Covid-19 booster was in the hands of NHS Highland who had not indicated when they would commence the roll-out of the programme for our age group.

"I have no idea why our local medical practices are not providing these vaccinations given that they have provided an incredibly efficient socially distanced delivery of 2020 and 2021 flu vaccinations and first and second Covid-19 vaccinations, however, that decision appears to have been made and it is considerably more important at this stage to establish the path forward.

"We are now entering the winter virus season and implementation of the vaccine roll-out is urgent for the elderly and vulnerable.

"I am therefore writing to ask for a clear commitment to, and date for, the prompt implementation in my local area."

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Meanwhile Lomond North independent councillor, George Freeman, said: "Many of my constituents have contacted me to highlight their concerns and have raised a number of questions with me that I cannot answer as no information on this decision has been provided to elected members or those that we have been elected to represent.

"To say the least, the lack of any consultation or information to elected members from NHS Highland or Argyll and Bute Community Health Partnership, and the fact that we have to learn this important information from the local press, is most disappointing and certainly not the level of partnership working that I would expect."

The HSCP has this week confirmed that drop-in clinics will be set up in some "remote rural community venues", with further details due to be published soon.

A spokesman for the Argyll and Bute HSCP said: "We are currently vaccinating care homes residents and health and social care staff with Covid boosters. Others eligible for Covid booster doses will receive an appointment letter from November.

"The HSCP vaccination taskforce have made extensive preparations to ensure booster jabs can be rolled out quickly and as conveniently as possible.

"The delivery plan in some areas includes drop-in vaccination clinics in remote rural community venues. Further information will be made public shortly on the NHS Highland website and social media platforms.

"We would like to take this opportunity to praise the achievements of our vaccination programme taskforce and vaccination teams across Argyll and Bute."