INVESTIGATIONS are ongoing into a “small number” of patients who have been waiting more than 12 weeks for their second Covid vaccination, as figures show 20 times as many second as first doses are being administered in Scotland.

Shortages of district nurses in some areas have been blamed for a delay in vaccinating housebound elderly people.

Dr Gregor Smith, Scotland’s chief medical officer, said he was aware of problems but said there are sufficient supplies available to ensure that everyone awaiting their second dose will be inoculated “on or around 12 weeks”.

He said: “I’m aware that there are a small number of people whose appointments have been delayed with those second doses and we’re trying to understand the reasons for that, but I emphasise that it is a small number.

“You can see from the number of second doses that we’re doing on a daily basis that the teams are getting through those doses with a pace and a speed that is simply amazing.”

Pat Kane, a retired teacher living in London, raised concerns with NHS Lanarkshire this week after discovering that his 92-year-old mother who is housebound and lives in sheltered housing in Coatbridge had been waiting 14 weeks for her second dose.

Her first jag was administered on January 13 during a home visit by a district nurse.

Mr Kane said he had been told by his mother’s GP surgery that they were receiving “lots of calls” from people worried that they or a relative had been waiting too long.

“It seems there are lots of elderly people in the same position as my Mum,” he said.

Most GP practices are vaccinating the over-80s themselves, but a mixed model has been in place in Lanarkshire for the housebound.

As a result, some patients are vaccinated at home by GP practice staff and some by the health board’s own Housebound Vaccination Team.

READ MORE: Covid deaths fall to lowest levels since early October 

Mr Kane said the business manager for her mother’s GP group told him that “a staffing issue” at health board level meant that there were “not enough nurses to vaccinate housebound people in Lanarkshire”, but that vaccine supplies had also been stopped to GP practices preventing them from immunising patients themselves.

After the Herald contacted the health board yesterday, Mr Kane was told his mother would be vaccinated by the end of the day.

In a statement NHS Lanarkshire apologised for the delay, which it said had been due to an "administrative error" which is under review.

It added: "We would like to offer reassurance to Mrs Kane and her family that there will be no detriment to a person's immunity or to effectiveness of the vaccine if they have had to wait longer than 12 weeks, and they will not need to repeat their first dose."

HeraldScotland:

The UK was the first country in the world to adopt the 12 week interval between Covid vaccinations, in order to deliver first doses to more people earlier.

Clinical trial results were based on intervals of 21 to 28 days between doses.

However, deaths and hospitalisations are continuing to fall sharply in the UK among those vaccinated.

Professor Jason Leitch, Scotland’s national clinical director, said the 12-week timescale was used “for planning purposes”.

He said: “We’re comfortable with a margin of error of a little bit before or a little bit after, it’s not an exact science, and getting your second dose at 14 or 15 weeks is absolutely fine.”

It comes as figures show that nearly 101,000 second doses have been administered in Scotland over the latest 48-hour period compared to just over 5,100 people being given first doses.

READ MORE: How to book a free home Covid test 

Most healthy under-50s will remain unvaccinated as lockdown eases next week, with the bulk of supplies being prioritised to second doses for older and at-risk patients.

Dr Smith said: “It’s right that we concentrate on second doses right now to make sure that people are fully vaccinated as close to that 12 week mark as possible. Inevitably a consequence of that is that the first doses are being squeezed.”

He said he expected to see a “gradual escalation” in first doses soon.

Dr Smith also confirmed that a fifth case of the Indian variant, B.1.617, has been detected in Scotland, up from four a week ago.