Scotland ahead of UK in vaccinating care home residents, Nicola Sturgeon states

Scotland’s roll-out of the Covid-19 vaccine is going more slowly than England’s due to a concerted effort to vaccinate care home residents, Nicola Sturgeon has said.

The First Minister said at least 80 per cent of care home residents and around half of care home staff have received their first dose of a Covid-19 vaccine.

Equivalent figures in England show just over half of care home residents have been vaccinated.

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However, community vaccinations began several weeks ago for those aged 80 or over, with over-70s beginning to be vaccinated from Monday in England.

Nicola Sturgeon has countered claims that Scotland's supply of the Covid-19 vaccine is 'patchy'.Nicola Sturgeon has countered claims that Scotland's supply of the Covid-19 vaccine is 'patchy'.
Nicola Sturgeon has countered claims that Scotland's supply of the Covid-19 vaccine is 'patchy'.
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A total of 264,991 Scots have been given their first of the two injections, with a further 3,698 having received their second dose of the vaccine.

It is understood around 700,000 vaccines have been delivered to the Scottish Government, an increase of 140,000 from earlier figures.

Speaking at the Scottish Government's daily coronavirus briefing, the First Minister said vaccinations of the over-70s would begin soon with appointment letters being sent out “over the coming days”.

Ms Sturgeon said despite Scotland's slower start, all four nations of the UK were “working to the same targets” for when different priority groups would receive the vaccine.

She said: “We are on track to meet those targets, supplies permitting, of course.

"The reason why there is a slightly different pace at the moment is because we started in Scotland, as the JCVI recommended we did, in care homes, and taking the Pfizer vaccine into care homes and vaccinating elderly care home residents is a bit more labour intensive and time consuming, but we have focused on that first.”

The First Minister said supply was “a little bit bumpy”, specifically mentioning the AstraZeneca manufacturing process.

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The AstraZeneca vaccine is considered the key to a quick roll-out of the vaccine due to the fact it is easier to store and transport than the Pfizer vaccine.

She added: “We increasingly will see the pace of vaccination in the community groups, starting of course as we did last week with the over-80s, continue to pick up pace.

“We’re not entirely in control on the flow of supplies coming into the country.

"We did, of course, seek to put some more information around our expectations around that into the public domain last week, but we agreed with the UK Government to take those away again because there were concerns about commercial confidentiality.”

Speaking about supply issues, Ms Sturgeon added: “[AstraZeneca] would expect them to level out and become much more sustainable at a certain level as we go further into this year, but at this early stage they are a little bit bumpy.”

In response to criticism around “patchy supply” in GP surgeries across the country, chief medical officer Dr Gregor Smith said the vaccine was being delivered to surgeries as quickly as possible.

He said: “It is going out to those GP practices as quickly as it is coming in to Scotland and what we expect is over the next couple of weeks towards the end of January is those supplies coming in to Scotland begin to increase and the way the throughput goes to the GP practices will increase as well.

"But it really is about the pipeline into Scotland right now which is the rate-limiting step."

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