Covid in Scotland: FM satisfied target for over-70s vaccines has been met

Covid in Scotland: FM satisfied target for over-70s vaccines has been met

The Scottish government is “satisfied” it has hit its latest vaccination target – but has warned that progress is set to slow down in the coming days.

Ministers aimed to give a first dose of Covid-19 vaccine to all over-70s and the clinically vulnerable by Monday.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said everyone in this group should have been offered an appointment.

She urged anyone who had not received one to contact the government, and said “nobody is going to be left behind”.

However, she said the rate of progress was set to “decline a bit” due to supply issues, with health teams “unlikely to vaccinate more than 30,000 people a day this week”.

This would be fewer than half of the number of people vaccinated on several days over the past week, but Ms Sturgeon said staff “stand ready to pick up the pace as soon as supplies allow”.

Monday is the final day for the government to reach its target of giving a first dose of vaccine to all over-70s and those deemed to be extremely clinically vulnerable.

Ms Sturgeon said she was “satisfied we have met that target”, and that everyone in these groups had been offered the vaccine.

A “significant number of people” had to rebook appointments due to the severe weather over the past week, but Ms Sturgeon said levels of uptake were already “well beyond the 80% target we set out in our deployment plan”.

The first minister said “close to 100%” of older care home residents and over-80s in the community had been given a first dose, along with 99% of 75 to 79-year-olds.

And she said the uptake rate for those aged 70 to 74 was already at 85%, with more booked in for Monday.

Ms Sturgeon said this was “without a doubt a significant achievement”, which in time would “reduce deaths from Covid-19 significantly”.

The vaccination rate is expected to dip over the coming weeks due to a combination of factors, including a reduction in supplies.

Ms Sturgeon said Pfizer had “re-phased its delivery over the coming period”. The same number of vials will be delivered, but over a different timescale.

She also said the higher than expected uptake of vaccines meant more doses had been used than anticipated, while more stocks would have to start being held back for second doses.

Some vaccination centres like the NHS Louisa Jordan may move from seven days a week operation to five to reflect this.

However, Ms Sturgeon stressed that “we are not talking about closing vaccination centres” and said the system could pick up pace “very rapidly” once supplies are available.

She said: “We’re going to see these issues through this programme, that’s in the nature of it, but it shouldn’t take away from the fact we are in a much better position than we thought we would be in.”

Scottish Conservative leader Douglas Ross said the vaccination target being hit was “great news” and that the government must now work on a “route map” towards easing lockdown.

He said: “Understandably specific dates set in stone are not possible because as the virus mutates it can get stronger variants, as we’ve seen over the last 10 or 11 months.

“But we need to know the triggers that will be in place for all school pupils to go back, for businesses to reopen – will we have a tiered approach or a national approach?

“These are the crucial points that businesses really need to be aware of so we can see our way out of this crisis.”

Ms Sturgeon’s cabinet is due to decide on Tuesday morning whether more pupils can return to Scotland’s schools in the coming weeks, with an announcement to follow at Holyrood in the afternoon.

The first minister said she was “very keen” to go ahead with the phased return of children to schools.

She said there would be “trade-offs” over the coming months as the country eases out of lockdown, with schools and care home visiting “the kind of things we focus on first as we try to get things back to normal”.

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