NHS SHETLAND is developing its travel vaccination service over the next few months to “improve access” and cut queues for vaccination.
Chief executive Ralph Roberts encouraged travellers to contact the service as early as possible to give enough time to arrange necessary vaccinations.
He was responding to criticism from Shetland MSP Tavish Scott, who claimed that people had “waited months” for injections and had “faced funding” a trip to Aberdeen to get their jabs.
The improved vaccination service is supposed to be up and running by 1 May.
Roberts said: “NHS Shetland has recognised for some time that the access to travel vaccinations for the local community needed to be developed. We are pleased that we have been able to identify ways to develop the service over the next few months and this will improve access.
“We would encourage anyone who thinks they may need travel vaccinations or advice to contact the service as early as possible so that there is plenty of time to arrange the necessary vaccinations or medication. Individuals should also note that the provision of travel vaccinations will incur a fee since this is not part of the normal NHS service.”
According to Scott only one nurse is allocated to provide travel vaccinations for Shetland as it is not a core health service provision.
The MSP said: “I have been contacted by constituents worried they will miss their holidays because of these delays.
“Shetlanders are waiting months to hear anything back from the clinic and are facing further waits before they get an appointment. It is unacceptable that some face having to travel south to just to get these vital injections so they can make their holidays.
“I met with the health secretary to discuss the situation. She told me that a new service with more trained nurses would be operational in May. I will be making sure that there will be a real improvement in waiting times and patient service. It is simply not acceptable that people living in Shetland would have to fund a trip to Aberdeen to get a holiday injection.”