Health chiefs in Ayrshire have said that more vaccine clinics will be added to the online booking portal which was launched on Monday, as people have struggled to book appointments.

Health Secretary Humza Yousaf announced that the website has been set up and made available for a new tranch of the population to book their third jags.

He confirmed that now, following the invitation of all people aged 60 and above to come for a third dose, the next most at-risk groups would be able to arrange their next vaccine appointment via the web portal.

Those aged 50 to 59, unpaid carers who are 16 and over, and those aged 16 and over who are household contacts of immunosuppressed individuals can now book in for their third dose of a Covid vaccine

However, people in Ayrshire reported struggling to find any available appointments on the portal.

One Twitter user wrote: "My second dose was 3rd March. Tried to book on line today. Not a single appt in Ayrshire and Arran. GPs only doing over 80s. Im 57, Husband 60 he is still waiting also. His 2nd dose was also 3rd March. We are almost nine months since second dose."

Another user wrote: "Got my letter yesterday and I tried to book online but there were no appointments for months. I ended up calling the helpline and got an appointment for 12th December but I am having to drive to Girvan from Ayr to get it. 44 mile round trip."

Another said: "It’s a shambles. No appointments in Ayrshire and Arran."

We took a closer look at the appointment calendar on the booking portal to verify if there really are no appointments available in the area.

On first look, it would seem that there are no appointments available at any of the 18 vaccine clinics in Ayrshire, however on closer inspection we found that there were some appointments avaiable, but only at select locations on certain days.

East Ayrshire: 

  • Galleon Centre, Kilmarnock - Dec 28 and 31 

North Ayrshire:

  • Largs Academy - Dec 11, 12 and 19
  • Dalry Primary School - Dec 29 and 30
  • Greenwood Conference Centre, Dreghorn - Dec 14, 15, 16 and Jan 7, 8 and 9

South Ayrshire:

  • Girvan Community Hospital - Dec 12 and 18

Part of the problem is that the booking portal does not have the days on which there are no available appointments blocked out, and you have to select the venues one at a time, so finding an appointment means individuals have to trawl through hundreds of dates to find one of the 15 days listed above, on which they can book an appointment.

In response to the lack of available appointments, more will be made available, said health chiefs.

NHS Ayrshire & Arran Public Health Director Lynne McNiven said: "Clinics with additional capacity in Ayrshire are being added to the portal regularly.

"If you attempt to book your appointment but can’t see any suitable slots please check back at a later time as new options will become available."

She added: “In Ayrshire we have already delivered over 80,000 booster or third dose Covid-19 vaccinations since the end of September when this programme began.

"Those older more vulnerable people have been and continue to be sent letters with their appointment details, this includes 60-69 year olds and 16-59 year olds with eligible medical conditions.

"These next groups who are eligible for boosters can go online and book their own appointment in advance for a location and at a time convenient to them.

“Local clinics will be able to welcome these groups from December – so please book yourself on and if you don’t have internet access, call the national helpline number to make the arrangements to come for vaccination.

“If you attend your GP or community pharmacy for a free seasonal flu vaccine you will only be given the booster at your mass vaccination centre appointment. If you don’t do that and are eligible for both vaccines, you can be given them both safely at the same time when you come to your appointment.

“Remember that we cannot offer booster vaccines and seasonal flu on a drop-in basis at our mass vaccination clinics – they are really busy at the moment and the drop-in offer is only for those who are unvaccinated or are due a second dose.”