Elderly couple asked to make 20-mile trip for booster

An elderly Stonehaven couple are facing a 40-mile round trip to get their Covid vaccine booster shot following the closure of the local vaccine hub.

By Morag Kuc
Friday, 22nd April 2022, 1:26 pm
Updated Friday, 22nd April 2022, 1:31 pm
File photo dated 31/07/21 of a person receiving a Covid-19 jab. More than a million people in England have only had one Covid-19 vaccine, the NHS has said as it encouraged people to come forward for their second jab.

Diane Fleming and her husband David, who are both over 75, had been waiting on news about their fourth booster jab and finally received their appointments last weekend.

However, they were shocked when they discovered that their appointments were in Banchory – some 20 miles each way.

As there is no bus service between Stonehaven and Banchory, David called to rearrange the appointment to somewhere more local, but was offered Elgin!

Diane told us: “We know someone who was offered an appointment in Forres...no doubt the next stop will be Inverness!”

She continued: “We had a vaccination centre in the middle of Stonehaven at the town hall, but it was closed down.

"Until last week local schools were used as centres for those who could not go to Banchory, but with the school holidays ending, this is not a viable option.

"We were supposed to get a vaccination hub at the Invercarron Resource Centre, but obviously so much work has to be done to make it suitable that it is not ready.

"There are several other venues which could easily be used in Stonehaven meantime, the local surgery springs to mind as it is empty most of the time.

"In the current climate when we are supposed to be saving fuel, it seems entirely illogical to ask us to perform a round trip of 40 miles (more if you go to Elgin) for a small injection.

"Some of the elderly local residents do not drive – how can they possibly reach Banchory? A taxi will cost far too much if you are on a fixed pension.

"The danger is that a lot of vulnerable people will not bother with the booster dose, so something which is supposed to help us will not be taken up and will put a lot of us in danger of contracting covid in the near future, resulting in an increase in pressure on the NHS, which is already not coping.”

Commenting on the situation, Shona Strachan, AHSCP Partnership Manager for South Aberdeenshire, said: “With the closure of the Stonehaven Town Hall vaccination clinic at the end of March our teams have been vaccinating people at a number of ‘pop-up’ clinics in our schools over the Easter break.

"Unfortunately those clinics have now ended, meaning that the nearest vaccination vaccination clinic is now in Banchory.

"We will have some limited capacity to offer some appointments in Stonehaven in the near future.

"However, given that the capacity at these clinics will be very limited, we would ask that all those who can travel to Banchory vaccination clinic do so.”

The new clinics at Stonehaven will be held at Stonehaven Comunity Centre and appointments at these clinics should be bookable towards the end of this week via the national booking portal, although there is no confirmed date for when they will be ‘live’ on the portal.

Meanwhile, help to travel to appointments can be facilitated by calling 01467 536111 or by emailing [email protected]