Complacent First Minister fails to reassure on vaccine travel concerns

Following numerous queries from East Lothian residents about the distance they have been asked to travel for a vaccination appointment, Iain Gray MSP today raised the issue with the First Minister at Holyrood.

Mr Gray outlined the extent of the travel involved for some – up to an 80-mile round trip for Dunbar residents asked to go to Ingliston – and asked Nicola Sturgeon to intervene and ensure that people are not asked to travel so far for an appointment in future.

Commenting afterwards, Iain Gray MSP said:

“Everyone appreciates the scale of the Covid vaccination programme and the complexity of implementing it. However, the number of people from East Lothian who are being asked to travel to vaccination centres in Edinburgh or beyond has emerged as a real concern over recent days.

“While many are content to take up the offer of an appointment in Edinburgh, for others it is simply not an option either because they do not have a car, do not want to travel that far on public transport or cannot afford the cost of a taxi.

“I took the opportunity today to tell the First Minister about the frustration felt by many East Lothian residents when faced with the prospect of travelling to the other side of Edinburgh for their jag and ask her to intervene and ensure such travel is minimised.

“Unfortunately, as with so many of her answers on the vaccination programme, Ms Sturgeon fell back on complacent stock answers and offered little in the way of either reassurance or practical help for those affected.

“I hope that the opening of the new centre at QMU will make it easier for people to get an appointment locally in the coming weeks and months. But the fact remains that this is an issue that must be addressed as we move into the later phases of the vaccination programme.”