Letters are dropping for Ayrshire residents aged 50-65 with appointments inviting them to roll up their sleeve for their COVID-19 vaccine in the coming weeks.

Those eligible are being offered appointments at one of the local vaccination centres as part of the NHS Ayrshire & Arran mass vaccination programme, which is the largest programme of its kind ever delivered locally.

It comes after the health board confirmed that over 140,000 people in Ayrshire have now received their first dose of the vaccine, with Health Secretary Jeane Freeman assuring that the Scottish Government remain on target to offer a first vaccination to the remainder of the adult population by the end of July.

Currently appointments are being allocated for the following groups, with letters arriving throughout the next few weeks:

· Those in group 6 who haven’t yet received their letter, including eligible unpaid carers who are not yet registered but are being invited to do so via a national self-registration service from next week

· Those aged 60-64 (group 7)

· Those aged 55-59 (group 8)

· Those aged 50-54 (group 9)

Recent cohorts for vaccination have included those aged 16-64 with an underlying health condition included on the JCVI list and unpaid carers who are registered with their GP, all of whom fall under group 6, one of the largest groups in the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) prioritisation framework.

NHS Ayrshire & Arran Chief Executive John Burns said: “Our vaccination programme is progressing successfully and since the first vaccines were administered locally on December 8 2020, an incredible 146,364 people have rolled up their sleeve to receive a first dose.

"I would like to thank everyone involved in the continued delivery of the vaccination programme in Ayrshire and all those who have come forward for their vaccine so far. The vaccine is key to beating the virus and eventually returning to normal life, so it’s really important that you get it when you are invited."

Heath Secretary Jeane Freeman said: “I am delighted that Scotland’s COVID-19 vaccination programme is now able to move to the final stages of vaccinating the first nine priority groups before progressing to people aged under 50.

“We have always said delivery of the vaccination programme is subject to supply and on that basis I am confident we remain on target to offer a first vaccination to all those in the phase 1 priority groups by the middle of April and the remainder of the adult population by the end of July.

“The roll-out continues to deliver at pace, which is down to the enormous efforts of our vaccination teams. I would like to thank everyone who is working tirelessly to make this a success.

“When you are offered the vaccine please take up the invitation. The vaccination programme is one of three key ways we are working to beat this virus, along with our expanded testing programme to identify cases and break chains of transmission and the important lockdown restrictions everyone in Scotland must follow. All these measures work to greatest effect when they work together.”

Anyone aged 65 or over who has not yet been invited for their vaccine should visit nhsinform.scot for further advice, or call the national helpline on 0800 030 8013.