Health chiefs have confirmed that those looking to get their booster dose of a Covid vaccine will no longer have to wait six months as was the case previously.

It comes after there were reports of people in the NHS Ayrshire and Arran health board area being able to book an appointment less than six months since their last one, but then being turned away from the vaccine centre.

Those aged over 40, unpaid carers or household contacts of immunosuppressed individuals, can now book their vaccine booster appointment for three months after their second dose. 

The time required to be waited between second and third jags has been cut from six months to three.

Public Health director Lynne McNiven said: “I would like to apologise to those who were turned away.

"Unfortunately, this was because our vaccine teams had to wait for the appropriate protocols and guidance to be approved nationally, to ensure we provide a clinically safe service.

"We now have that protocol in place, and so I would encourage those people to call the vaccine helpline and book another appointment.

“Please take the chance to get the booster to increase your protection against the coronavirus, which can be severe at any age.”

Lynne McNiven added: “Since our booster vaccine programme started in September, we have delivered around 120,000 booster or third Covid-19 vaccine doses locally already.

“With winter now upon us, and news of a new Covid-19 variant, it is now more important than ever that we get as many booster vaccines into arms as possible.

“Those aged over 40 are eligible for a booster and they can book on to the system now. If you’re aged over 40, an unpaid carer or living in an immunosuppressed household, make sure you book your appointment on the portal. To access the booking portal, visit here.

“You won’t get a blue appointment letter, and so you need to log on to the portal to book an appointment at a location and time convenient to you.

“Please note, however, that if you are aged 18 to 39 years, you cannot book a booster vaccination as yet. More information will be available soon about how 18 to 39 year olds will get their vaccine.”

She also confirmed that more vaccine clinic appointments were being made available all the time, following reports last month that people were unable to find any available appointment slots on the booking calendar. 

She said:  “More than 80,000 local appointments have been added to the system for December and January. If you don’t find an appointment right away, keep trying, as we are adding more appointments every day."