Following the discovery of a data coding issue which led to a number of people across Scotland being mistakenly invited for a shingles or pneumococcal vaccine, Public Health Scotland (PHS) has been leading the response.

The data coding issue resulted in 5,410 individuals receiving an additional dose of the shingles or pneumococcal vaccine between April and August this year.

All patients who were affected are being/have been contacted with a letter of apology for any concern caused and reassured that having received an additional dose of vaccine is not expected to result in any harm.

In addition, people who were mistakenly contacted regarding scheduled appointments and who did not go on to be vaccinated, are also being/have also been contacted and have received an apology for the error.

As well as providing information on the issue, the letter also includes contact details should anyone wish to speak to a member of the clinical team if they have any questions.

PHS has been working with the Scottish Government, NHS National Services Scotland and NHS Boards across Scotland to fully investigate this issue and has implemented actions to minimise the risk of such an error being repeated.

The shingles vaccine is used to protect against shingles (varicella zoster virus), which is caused when re-activation of the chickenpox virus affects a nerve and the skin around it. People aged between 70 and 79 on 1 September 2022 are eligible for the free shingles vaccine. In most cases, the shingles vaccine is given as one dose.

The pneumococcal vaccine provides some protection against the illnesses that can be caused by pneumococcal bacteria. The pneumococcal vaccine is available in Scotland for all people aged 65 and over, as well as adults with certain health conditions.

“These vaccinations have a proven track record and we do not expect them to have caused any harm to any of the patients. While we understand that this incident may have caused concern and inconvenience to the patients who were mistakenly vaccinated, we are not aware of anyone having suffered any ill effects as a result of receiving the vaccinations.

"PHS staff have been working closely with colleagues in the Scottish Government, NHS National Services Scotland and local health boards to minimise the risk of this happening again.”

Last updated: 21 October 2022