HELENSBURGH’S MSP has warned the government must accelerate the Covid booster rollout as a “matter of urgency”.

Jackie Baillie has highlighted the “serious consequences” looming this winter if third jabs are not administered now.

Calling on health secretary Humza Yousaf to “realise the scale of the situation and act”, Ms Baillie said: “We are entering winter with worryingly high levels of Covid and with hundreds of thousands of eligible people still waiting on their booster vaccine, including many local people across my constituency.

“Expanding eligibility for the booster is entirely reasonable, but it only makes sense if those already eligible are being vaccinated.”

The Scottish Government says the programme is “remaining on track”.

A spokesperson said: “We continue to follow JCVI [Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation] advice and call forward priority groups to ensure the most vulnerable are offered flu and booster vaccines first, and we are grateful to everyone involved in delivering the programme.

READ MORE: MSP blasts health chiefs for 'shambolic' rollout of Covid booster jags

“We started administering boosters within days of the JCVI providing their advice in September.

“Given we started vaccinating people from December 8, 2020, and as is the case across the UK, a significant number of people would have been beyond the six month stage before the JCVI advice was received.”

Eligible constituents are being urged to book their Covid booster via the NHS online portal which opens today.

Scottish Labour claims that as many as 835,866 eligible Scots are yet to receive their booster vaccine.

The party’s analysis of the latest data says that just 30.6 per cent of eligible Argyll and Bute residents have received their booster vaccine, with similar figures for West Dunbartonshire.

Ms Baillie has urged anyone living in her constituency who has been left waiting more than six months between their second dose and booster to get in touch.

READ MORE: Council raises 'significant concerns' over plans for national care service

Meanwhile, the Argyll and Bute health and social care partnership (HSCP) says the rollout of the booster vaccination programme in the area “continues to progress well”.

The partnership has come in for criticism after taking the booster programme in-house despite the success of the first and second doses being given by local GP practices.

There have also been claims on social media that some people in Helensburgh are being invited to attend sessions many miles from their homes.

An HSCP spokesperson said: “We will continue to focus on vaccinating people over 50, the clinically extremely vulnerable, the severely immunosuppressed and other eligible priority groups.

“The HSCP fully appreciates that many people are keen to get their Covid booster vaccination.

“It is our absolute priority to ensure that people are clear about their eligibility and to be aware that we are contacting people to invite them to attend scheduled clinics when they meet the criteria.”

READ MORE: Helensburgh's MP leads House of Commons tributes to Walter Smith

From this week, according to the HSCP, most appointments will be arranged by phone. People will be contacted from the number 0800 678 3393 or from a mobile phone.

Appointments can be rescheduled if required by calling NHS Highland’s vaccination hub in Inverness on 01463 705531 (Mon-Fri 9.30am-4.30pm or Saturday from 10am-2pm) or by emailing nhsh.abcovidvaccs@nhs.scot.

The HSCP is asking people to only email or telephone the hub if the information they are looking for is not available on the NHS Highland or NHS Inform websites.

The spokesperson added: “Clinics for December will be updated on our website in due course. We will issue information to the local media and via our website and social media platforms when the clinic dates have been set up.

“We will continue to assess the demand for vaccination and, if required, some extra, short notice clinics may be available to people who meet the clinic eligibility criteria.”