WHEN blue envelopes started turning up with the names of strangers on them, people in Scotland’s biggest city turned to the blue app on their smartphones.

Residents of Glasgow, where a young, mobile population and high concentration of private lets can see people take on multiple tenancies in the space of a couple of years, were faced with a choice when Covid vaccine letters with the names of former flatmates and tenants landed on their doormats – let it go and risk an appointment being missed or try to find the intended recipient.

Many of them chose the latter and are using Facebook in their search. Messages have sprung up on local groups and community pages dedicated to all parts of the city, as NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde (NHSGGC) last weekend found there’d been an unusual number of cancellations and non-attendances at vaccine clinics.

The exact figures weren’t published – and aren’t published for any part of Scotland – but it’s known that the Hydro, NHSGGC’s main jag hub, can deliver up to 10,000 doses per day.

The health board, which serves 1.14 million patients, said it was investigating and Tory MSP Annie Wells called for answers from Scottish ministers. Meanwhile, fellow Glasgow MSP Paul Sweeney, of Labour, called for a new approach, saying the NHS Scotland vaccine appointment system, which involves US firm ServiceNow, is “flawed because it is totally reliant on GP registration data that is less accurate amongst younger people and in cities like Glasgow with a more fluid population”. GP data, he suggested, should be cross-referenced with council tax and electoral registers “to ensure that every citizen is vaccinated”.

But away from official processes, citizen sleuths are doing it their way. On the Govanhill Go! Facebook page, the first blue envelope post appeared on May 15. On the Strathbungo and Shawlands Community page, residents have been sharing pictures of their rogue envelopes and asking for connections. One person looking for a Zdenek Hruska alerted a Czech member to expand the search to the Czech diaspora. But the approach, while well meaning, doesn’t seem to be particularly successful. Shawlands resident Sara Shaw said: “I received a blue envelope for someone who doesn’t live at my address but I’ve lived in this flat for seven years, so they’ve left a good while ago.

“I love the community spirit of people trying to reach out to one another and make sure vaccinations happen but it’s a pretty piecemeal approach and, despite hoping for a big reunion post on one of the pages, the success rate seems to be slim to none.”

Jo-Anne Hamilton, from the South Side of Glasgow, received two blue envelopes for people who no longer live at her address. Posting on Twitter, she said: “50% of people who received invitations at my address did not attend their appointment. That’s because 50% of people who received invitations at my address do not live here and NHS wouldn’t let me cancel the appointments.”

But while Glasgow remains in Level 3 for another week, the vaccine situation continues to change. This week digital bookings opened for those aged 18-29, while drop-in centres were announced for those aged 40 and over who still haven’t had two doses.

For these, patients don’t need an appointment in the diary at all. NHSGGC said: “People will be seen on a first come, first served basis, and there will be a set capacity each day. Future dates will be made available if required and we will use our social media channels to keep you regularly updated about potentially busy periods at each of the centres.”

Some of those will be held at the Hydro, the scene of so many no-shows last week. Others will be in Alexandria, Greenock and Barrhead. That’s similar to the set-up in parts of Wales, while Birmingham – with a population roughly equivalent to that of the NHSGGC area – is asking those who are “over 37, are clinically vulnerable, or are a health and social care worker, and have not yet had your first Covid-19 vaccination” to book online.

Across Scotland, health bosses are working to ensure no-one is missed. If you think you should have received a letter by now with details of either your first or second dose, call the national Covid-19 vaccination helpline on 0800 030 8013.