'Humiliated' Scottish Government set to miss vaccine target for 40 to 49 year olds

A key vaccine target is set to be missed by the Scottish Government barring a significant increase in the number of 40 to 49 year olds coming forward for their second dose of the Covid-19 vaccine.

A member of the Vaccination Team prepares a vaccine at the coronavirus mass vaccine centre at the Edinburgh International Conference Centre.

Nicola Sturgeon had told the Scottish Parliament that all 40 to 49 year olds will have been “given second doses” by July 26, but due to poor uptake that target is likely to be missed.

As of July 24, the most recent data available for age groups, just 75.8 per cent of this age group have had both doses of a Covid-19 vaccine, with 9.3 per cent failing to have a single dose.

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The First Minister is also under pressure to meet similar targets for the 30 to 39 age group which is scheduled to be completed by August 20, and for all adults by September 12.

Vaccine uptake has suffered as the rollout has reached younger age groups, with one in five 30 to 39 year olds without a single dose of a Covid-19 vaccine, and more than one in four (28.5 per cent) 18 to 29 year olds also yet to receive a first dose.

Just over a third (36.1 per cent) of those in their 30s have received both doses, compared with just one in five (21.6 per cent) of those under 30.

Scottish Labour’s health spokesperson, Jackie Baillie said the failure to hit the target is “humiliating” for the SNP.

The party’s depute leader said: “The SNP’s failure to meet this flagship target is humiliating for them – but it should worry us all.

“The First Minister was clear that the lifting of restrictions depends on the success of the vaccine roll-out, but their failure to meet key targets raises fresh doubts.

“From the stalling vaccine programme to the collapse of test and protect, the SNP’s complacency has become the single biggest threat to our journey out of lockdown.

“With the Delta variant still rampant across Scotland, it is more important than ever that everyone gets both doses. More must be done to make sure everyone can get their second jab as quickly as possible.”

The Scottish Conservatives said they believed the Scottish Government would miss all three targets based on the speed of the rollout.

The party’s health spokesperson, Annie Wells, called it a “triple whammy of SNP failures”.

She said: “Just as the finishing line approaches, the SNP have stumbled at the crucial moment. The vaccination programme has slowed down, yet the SNP Government seem to have no answers as to how to ensure people will be vaccinated on schedule.

“Hundreds of thousands of adults are set to be left without full protection beyond when they believed they would get a second dose. The SNP became complacent and thought targets would be met without any encouragement from Ministers.

“That attitude is unacceptable and means that restrictions that are due to be lifted in the coming weeks remain under threat. That would be another hammer blow to businesses and people who have made huge sacrifices for well over a year.

A Scottish Government spokesperson said: “The vaccination programme has been one of the fastest in the world with around 91 per cent of the over 40 population in Scotland now fully vaccinated. We have not missed any targets to date and our vaccination rates are broadly in line with other UK nations. All adults have now been offered their first dose and we expect that those who are eligible to be offered second doses by 12 September.

“We remain fully committed to ensuring that everyone has access to a COVID-19 vaccine and continue to urge anyone who has not yet come forward to do so as there is no doubt that vaccination represents our best way out of the pandemic and the best way to protect ourselves, our family and friends and our communities.

“Some people may be unable to attend an appointment at a set time and will get their second dose at a later date, whilst some may choose not to attend their scheduled appointment – and we are working to make it as simple as possible for people to get their vaccines. Drop-in or open-access clinics are offered in all mainland health boards for those aged 18 and over. This is for people who want a first vaccination or are 8 weeks or more from their second vaccination – regardless if they have a future appointment in the system. In addition, health boards are striving to maximise vaccine uptake by supporting outreach in food banks, religious centres and workplaces, and we are working with large employers to encourage uptake among their staff.

“We hope to move beyond Level 0 on 9 August and that remains our expectation. However, as always this is dependent on a number of factors and we will assess the data before coming to a final decision nearer the time and will provide an update in the week before 9 August.”

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