'Drop-in centres' or booking vaccination appointments could miss those at risk, says Nicola Sturgeon

Nicola Sturgeon has said drop-in centres for vaccinations and a booking system similar to that used in England would have risked missing those most at risk from Covid-19.

The First Minister said there was a need to be “flexible” in coming weeks and months as the vaccine programme approaches the younger part of Scotland’s population, but that a more “strategic” approach was needed when vaccination begun.

Her comments come after reports half of those expected to attend a vaccination appointment failed to show up at the Hydro in Glasgow over the weekend.

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Members of the Vaccination Team in the vaccine areas at the coronavirus mass vaccine centre at the Edinburgh International Conference Centre

Ms Sturgeon said the drop in uptake of the virus was being seen nationwide, but that levels were still extremely high.

Concerns have been raised the blue envelopes sent to confirm vaccination appointments are being sent to addresses where individuals no longer live due to out-of-date GP registration data.

Asked whether a “drop-in” centre for vaccination was an option being examined by the Scottish Government, the First Minister said the vaccination programme would “continue to evolve”.

She said: “We want to make sure that we are using the supplies that we have got right now, and we’ve got healthy supplies just now, but they are not unlimited supplies. So the danger of just moving straight away to a drop-in is you end up vaccinating people who are relatively speaking less likely to get seriously ill and die from the virus ahead of those who are more likely to fall sick.

"We need to have to try and have a strategic approach to this which is in line with the JCVI advice.

"As we go further through this, absolutely there is a need to be more flexible because also as we go further through we are more confident we got to everybody of those who are at higher risk.

"This is a programme that will continue to evolve in terms of how it is delivered.”

Speaking at a Covid-19 briefing with journalists, the First Minister was also asked about whether a booking system where individuals are able to choose their appointment may have been a better option.

Responding, Ms Sturgeon said despite administrative differences with England, the outcome of the programme was “pretty identical”.

She said: “The reason we have taken the approach of sending people letters, that is because we are trying to follow the clinical advice that says vaccinate those most at risk first.

"When you take that together with having limited supplies, the danger, particularly in the early stages of a programme like this, if you just allow people to come on and book is that you end up getting the order of vaccination, everybody wants to be vaccinated straight away, that’s natural, but we would get the order of vaccination out of sync with the clinical priorities for vaccination.

"We may also get it out of sync with the supplies that we have, so we tried to do it the best strategic managed way.

“As we go further down the age cohorts and the risk cohorts, that opens up the possibility of having different, more flexible, more accessible approaches and that is what we are at pace considering now in terms of projecting some different routes into vaccination into the system.”

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