Council areas across Scotland are ramping up their vaccination programmes in a bid to increase protection against the coronavirus and ‘beat variants’.

The health board areas of Lothian and Forth Valley are both introducing drop-in clinics, while Lanarkshire is increasing the number of daily appointments for Covid-19 vaccinations, in an effort to inoculate more people as quickly as possible. 

Drop-in clinics for Covid-19 vaccinations are being set up on Fridays in Forth Valley, to target specific groups of people.

Vaccine drop-in centres for the over 40s will also be launched across NHS Lothian, while NHS Lanarkshire will have an additional 1,000 appointments a day.

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Forth Valley residents aged 50 and over or in a priority group who have not had the vaccine and anyone who has waited more than nine weeks for their second dose will be offered access.

Jillian Taylor, operational lead for NHS Forth Valley’s programme, said: “The uptake rates in older age groups and those with underlying health conditions has been fantastic which means we have helped protect the most vulnerable people in our local communities who are most at risk. 

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“However, we also know that there are some people out there who may not have taken up the opportunity to get vaccinated and it is this group that we are encouraging to drop in, along with those who have waited more than nine weeks for their second dose and do not yet have a scheduled appointment.”

In the NHS Lothian area, clinics will be rolled out in mass vaccination sites for people aged 40 and over, who require a first of the Astra Zeneca vaccine or have been waiting at least eight weeks for the second jab.

Last week, a total of 36 Army personnel were deployed to accelerate vaccinations in the area, allowing for an extra capacity of more than 3,500 appointments each day.

Pat Wynne, nurse director of primary and community care, said: "This is a really exciting step for us because it means we can reach a lot of people really quickly to help give them some protection, which is obviously vital to help beat new variants and keep people well.

"We are delighted to team up with the British Armed Forces again. 

“Our teams have previously worked with them in two of our vaccination centres and we invited them to return to provide extra capacity across our centres as part of this race. 

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“They will join our teams at the routine appointment clinics and in the drop-in clinics."

In Lanarkshire, an additional 1,000 appointments will be offered each day for second injections to people who had their first dose before April 1 and don’t have a second jab scheduled, those who want to bring their appointment forward or did not attend their initial second dose. 

The area is also receiving assistance from the British Army. 

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Dr Mark Russell, lead for the vaccination programme in Lanarkshire, said: “We have been able to increase the number of second dose appointments we can offer due to the support we are receiving from the Armed Forces. 

“This means we can give people the opportunity to bring forward their second doses if they wish, which will help to protect more people as quickly as possible.”

He added: “Vaccination against covid-19 has never been more important. 

“To help continue on our road back to normality we need to make sure as many people as possible are vaccinated. It is also important to attend for both doses, for longer lasting protection.”

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The drop-in clinics are available at the Forth Valley College campuses at Falkirk, Stirling and Alloa from 8.30am to 7.15pm on Fridays, starting from June 18.

Lothian is running drop-in centres from today, June 9, at Lowland Hall and Pyramids Vaccination centres, until Sunday, June 13. 

People will be seen on a first come first served basis, and the centres will run for 10 hours every day.

Appointments in Lanarkshire can be rescheduled online at the NHS Inform website.