Scotland’s largest health board has issued an urgent appeal to the public amid increasing concern over the spread of the Omicron variant of coronavirus.
NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde (NHSGGC) said on Monday it is experiencing increased pressure on clinics as thousands of people seek to get their booster vaccine in the run-up to Christmas.
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon says it is the Scottish Government’s intention that everyone over 18 will have been able to book a booster appointment by Hogmanay.
NHSGGC, which is being supported by the Armed Forces, says “more people than ever are being seen”, including 17,000 on one day last week.
It is now advising the public to follow certain steps in order to ensure the vaccination process runs smoothly – namely booking an appointment, not turning up too early, checking eligibility before travelling and avoiding busy periods.
Anne Harkness, vaccination programme director for NHSGGC, said: “Coming forward to receive the vaccine is one of the biggest things we can all do to protect ourselves and others from the virus, and especially from the Omicron variant.
“We are delighted that so many people across NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde are answering the call to roll up their sleeves, and we thank every one of them for supporting the fight against the virus.
“Over the past couple of weeks, we have stepped up our vaccination programme to unprecedented levels, however, like many other Health Boards and Trusts across the UK, our vaccination centres are experiencing queues – and we need your help to tackle the issues.
“Today we have shared five simples steps to help reduce the queues, and we would encourage everyone to take them to heart. If we all do our bit, we can make this vaccination programme run more smoothly for everybody.”
The NHSGGC warning comes after Dr Lewis Morrison, chair of BMA Scotland, said last week the NHS was facing a “double whammy” of annual winter pressures and Omicron, which is now the dominant variant in Scotland.
Sturgeon has asked people to limit socialising as much as possible around Christmas and work from home where they can.
New guidance for retail and hospitality has also come into force, requiring businesses to take “reasonable measures” to reduce the spread of coronavirus.
Furthemore, the household contacts of any person who tests positive for Covid should must isolate for ten days regardless of their vaccination status and even if they initially get a negative PCR test.
Emma Finlay, vaccination lead nurse at NHSGGC, said: “The vaccination teams are so thankful to everyone who have come forward for their vaccination, especially those who have experienced queues. We are trying to get everyone vaccinated as swiftly and safely as possible to ensure that as many people as possible are fully jagged before Christmas.
“I would like to ask members of the public to please be patient with the clinic teams, please consider the five steps and we will look forward to seeing many more of you very soon.”