Half a million Scots given first dose of Covid-19 vaccine as clarity over second doses welcomed

More than 500,000 Scots have been given a first dose of a Covid-19 vaccine, it was announced on Friday, as clarity over second doses was welcomed by doctors.

A vial of the Pfizer vaccine.

As of 8.30am on Friday, 515,855 people in Scotland have been given a first dose of vaccine.

It is not yet known exactly how many were vaccinated on Thursday, as due to an administrative error vaccination figures were not updated. The average of Wednesday and Thursday was just under 27,000 first doses a day.

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This is set to increase significantly next week with the introduction of mass vaccination centres from Monday at the Edinburgh International Conference Centre and P&J Live in Aberdeen.

Some 7,095 people have now been fully inoculated against the virus, with two doses of the Pfizer vaccine.

Health Secretary Jeane Freeman said on Friday that the high number of second doses being given – around 500 a day this week – was due to leftover doses being administered to prevent wastage.

A decision was taken in December to delay second doses of the Pfizer jab to between eight and 12 weeks after the first dose, meaning a widespread programme of second doses is due to begin in the next couple of weeks.

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Ms Freeman said second doses “may have been given in some circumstances [...] in order to avoid wastage, where you’ve already opened up a vial and you’ve made up the doses.”

She added: "We don’t want to waste a single drop of this precious vaccine if we can avoid it.”

Chief Nursing Officer Fiona McQueen said: “None of us want even one dose to be wasted.”

She said she has had discussions with vaccinators who have asked what to do if they are due to give first doses in care homes but a number of people do not turn up.

"In those circumstances they can use it with the care home residents, and similarly if there are frontline staff who can have a second dose they can have it,” she said.

"I know in some other sectors to save wastage they may offer it, perhaps GP surgeries [...] they would give it to someone who was eligible for it rather than waste it.”

The British Medical Association in Scotland, which has called for more clarity around second doses, welcomed the comments.

“The positions outlined today from the Health Secretary and Chief Nursing Officer that second doses of the vaccine can be used for frontline staff within the 12-week period to avoid wastage provide welcome further clarity on this position,” said Chair Dr Lewis Morrison.

"We have consistently raised concerns around the potential impact on staff in delaying second doses, as well as the possibility this could lead to vaccine wastage in some circumstances. So it is reassuring to hear that frontline healthcare staff can have their second dose in circumstances where doses would otherwise be thrown out.

"We continue to also call for healthcare staff to get urgent clarity around when they will receive their second dose, and for appointments to be arranged for them as soon as possible, to provide the clarity they need and deserve.”

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