Covid in Scotland: More drop-in vaccine centres planned to avoid no-shows in younger age groups

The Scottish Government is planning to offer more flexible Covid-19 vaccinations to younger age groups in a bid to reduce no-shows, Nicola Sturgeon has said.

The vaccination programme is being continually reviewed, the First Minister told MSPs on Tuesday, to make improvements during the programme and prepare for further rounds of vaccination in future.

It comes as Ms Sturgeon announced that 14 council areas would remain in level two restrictions from Saturday, instead of moving to level one as planned.

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The successful vaccine rollout will hopefully allow Scotland to deal with the pandemic in a “different way”, Ms Sturgeon said, but coverage is not yet high enough.

A man receives a vaccine at Twickenham rugby stadium in London on Monday, as a walk-in vaccination centre administered 15,000 doses to over 18s in the local area.

Just over 47 per cent of adults in Scotland have now been given both doses of vaccine.

In response to questions from MSPs about vaccine appointment no-shows, Ms Sturgeon said the Scottish Government would attempt to make appointments more flexible for younger age groups.

“We are working on an ongoing basis to try to understand the reasons for people not attending and to address that,” she said.

“There is more of an approach as we go down the age bands for flexible, drop-in appointments rather than booked appointments, and the online portal for registration is also helping make sure people's address details are fully up to date.

“To reassure people, health boards are also on a daily basis overbooking appointments, so that if there is a percentage of people not turning up, that is not reducing the overall number of vaccinations that they're doing in a day.”

Ms Sturgeon refused to commit to publishing data on no-shows, but said the Scottish Government would consider whether any more information could be published in future.

A number of MSPs also highlighted constituents still being missed by the programme.

The SNP’s Christine Graham said she had seen constituents “failed” by the national vaccine helpline and missing appointments process.

Labour’s Jackie Baillie said: “Some people are waiting more than 12 weeks for their second dose. At one clinic, people were sent home because supplies of the Pfizer vaccine had run out, and people in West Dunbartonshire were told to go to the Hydro or Easterhouse for their vaccination.”

Ms Sturgeon said the Scottish Government was trying to strike a “balance” between local appointments and mass vaccination centres.

“This is an ongoing process, nobody who doesn't turn up for their vaccine appointment will simply be forgotten,” she said.

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"There will be considerable efforts to try to reach out and get people who've missed their appointment to reschedule, regroup and come forward for vaccination.”

Labour leader Anas Sarwar called for walk-in vaccination centres for over-18s to be set up in Covid “hotspot” areas, as was done in Glasgow and Moray.

A “toolkit” is being created based on the public health approach in Glasgow, Ms Sturgeon said, which will be shared will all health boards.

The Scottish Government will focus on delivering second doses to everyone eligible for one in coming weeks, Ms Sturgeon said.

"We know that, although getting over-18s their first dose is important – appointments have already started in Glasgow and we will look at having drop-in clinics as supplies allow – the most vital thing that we can do is to get people who have had the first dose to have their second dose,” she said.

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