The Scottish government looks set to deliver on its promise to vaccinate all vulnerable people by 5 February, the Health Secretary has announced.
Speaking on Friday morning, Jeane Freeman stated that she was confident that the government’s initial target would be met by the end of the day, with all care home residents, frontline health workers and over-80s having received the first dose of their Covid vaccine.
A total of 694,347 people have been given a first dose in Scotland, with 9,301 people having received two injections.
The Scottish government continue to move through the four priority groups for vaccination as set out by the Joint Committee for Vaccination and Immunisation, and have now extended the vaccine rollout to include all those aged over 65.
This follows acknowledgement from Holyrood that the Scottish vaccination effort needed to be sped up amid fears that Scotland was falling further behind other parts of the UK in terms of the percentage of the population that had been vaccinated.
In response to criticisms that Scotland’s programme was falling behind, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon stated:
“If we take the last two days, we are not just vaccinating more compared to last week ourselves, but the vaccination rate in Scotland is about 30 per cent higher in the last couple of days this week so far than in England.”
The First Minister also reiterated the government’s focus on care home vaccinations which she claimed had slowed initial distribution.
The opening of two mass vaccination centres in Edinburgh and Aberdeen at the start of the week have boosted vaccination numbers.
However, concerns have been raised by NHS staff who claim that they are having to dispose of ‘wasted doses’.
Low patient numbers at the newly opened hub at the Edinburgh International Conference Centre has led to surplus doses going to waste.
On Thursday, Scotland recorded its highest daily vaccination total for the third consecutive day with over 45,000 people receiving their first dose, a 52 per cent increase on figures recorded a week ago.
Health Secretary Jeane Freeman announced that Scottish care homes and health staff are due to receive their second dose by the end of February, but explained that this remains dependent on supply.
She also stated that the government expected a greater number of vaccinations to take place on Sunday following criticisms that Scotland’s vaccine effort stalled last weekend.
There are early signs that the rollout of vaccinations, along with the introduction of lockdown restrictions in January, are working to control the spread of the virus.
Following its peak in mid-January, the daily coronavirus death rate in Scotland has begun to fall slowly, as has the number of patients in hospital with Covid.
A deadline of 15 February has been set for giving all people aged over 70 and the clinically extremely vulnerable their first dose.
This sets a target of 1.1 million vaccinations by the middle of the month.
In order to meet this deadline, the vaccination effort would have to sustain the numbers seen over the last three days, providing first doses to around 40,000 individuals daily.