Health board staff have admitted they are “struggling to cope” with demand for flu jabs following a surge in patients seeking the vaccine.
NHS Grampian said its dedicated flu vaccine telephone helpline and email address had experienced a surge in inquiries.
Some residents have found that the booking line for NHS Grampian patients is constantly engaged and are worried they will lose the opportunity to be vaccinated.
And others have received letters late, finding out their appointments were booked for a date before they opened their mail.
Demand has increased since the Scottish Government urged people eligible for the free jab to take up the offer and protect themselves over the winter to help the NHS avoid additional pressure.
New walk-in or drive-through centres have been set up in many areas within local facilities, such as town halls and community hubs, along with outreach programmes to try and ease the strain.
NHS Grampian said it is prioritising vaccines for the over 65s amid the surge in demand.
A spokeswoman for the health board said: “The telephone helpline and email address set up to support the public vaccination campaign has experienced a surge in inquiries that staff are struggling to cope with at present.
“This is due, in part, to the late arrival of appointment letters which we are working closely with Royal Mail to resolve.
“We are developing a solution to address the call and email backlog at pace and will be making arrangements to ensure all those who are eligible for the free flu jab and who may have missed appointments will have the opportunity to receive them.
“Our priority group at present is the over 65s, we know they are concerned and keen to get their vaccine. We want to reassure them that we are working hard to ensure they will receive it.”
‘It is vital that people have access to the flu vaccine’
Aberdeenshire West MSP Alexander Burnett has written to Health Secretary Jeane Freeman urging her to address concerns over the availability of flu vaccinations ahead of winter.
He said one of his constituents had received a letter confirming an appointment in Aboyne, only to find the slot was for the day before.
He wrote: “This year it is vital that people have access to the flu vaccine. However, many constituents have been in touch with me to say they are facing difficulty with this year’s flu vaccination programme.
“Whilst many eligible constituents have not yet received their appointment letters, some people are receiving their letters after their scheduled appointment has already taken place.
“In addition, they have reported that the contact telephone number is constantly engaged, and they receive an automatic response to their emails stating that a response cannot be guaranteed within 48 hours.
“This is very distressing to those waiting for their appointment, many of whom are on the shielding list and would like to receive their vaccine as soon as possible.”
Vaccine offered to more people than ever due to Covid-19
A Scottish Government spokesman said: “This year the vaccine is being offered to more people than ever to address the additional risk posed by coronavirus.
“As it is the largest flu vaccination programme ever offered in Scotland and it is happening in the middle of a pandemic, we accept there have been some challenges. We are working closely with the boards to resolve any issues as quickly as possible.
“We have procured enough vaccine to vaccinate all those who are eligible, modelled on demand of 2.4 million people.
“We are working closely with boards to ensure the elderly, those most at risk and health and social care workers are prioritised.
“To vaccinate more people safely, the way in which vaccines are being delivered is different from previous years and may not be at a GP surgery. These may include new walk-in or drive-through centres such as town halls and community hubs, along with outreach programmes for the sole purpose of delivering the free flu jab.
“GPs will continue to play an important role in the seasonal flu immunisation programme with more than a quarter of these vaccines being delivered through GP surgeries.”