Scottish Government accused of 'dangerous spin' over vaccine targets as 100,000 eligible Scots still without jag

The Scottish Government has been accused of “jumping the gun” over announcements on vaccine targets causing “dangerous” confusion.

It comes after First Minister Nicola Sturgeon announced last week the mid-April target for offering a first dose of vaccine to everyone in the first nine JCVI priority groups had “effectively” been hit, with some people perhaps having “fallen through the cracks”.

But figures released by Public Health Scotland show that at least 104,000 people in those eligible groups, which include all over-50s and those over-16 with an underlying health condition, have not yet had a first dose.

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Some 102,693 people with underlying health conditions have not had a dose (13.5 per cent of the cohort) along with 36,489 people aged 55-59 and 9,711 people aged 50-54.

First Minister of Scotland Nicola Sturgeon receives the first shot of the Astra Zeneca vaccine, administered by staff nurse Elaine Anderson, at the NHS Louisa Jordan vaccine centre in the SSE Hydro in Glasgow, Scotland. Picture date: Thursday April 15, 2021.
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People in their 50s with underlying health conditions will be counted in both these groups.

Labour health spokesperson Jackie Baillie called on the Scottish Government to be “upfront and clear” about whether or not the target had been hit.

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“In a public health emergency, spin like this will only cause confusion and could even be dangerous,” she said.

She added: “The SNP Government needs to be upfront and clear with the public, not jumping the gun for positive news stories.”

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Scottish Conservative health spokesperson Donald Cameron said ministers had a “duty to be honest”.

“The vaccination programme has been an extraordinary success across Scotland and the United Kingdom and it was right that ambitious targets were set,” he said.

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“However, there is a duty on SNP Ministers to be honest with people about how many vaccines have actually been delivered by the set deadlines. Many individuals who are in the priority groups will not recognise claims that targets have been hit.

“SNP Ministers should present clear and accurate data at all times in relation to the vaccination rollout to ensure a potentially misleading picture is not being presented.”

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Alex Cole-Hamilton, of the Liberal Democrats, said the number of Scots in priority groups still without a first dose is “worrying”.

"If it is a question of hesitancy about vaccinations, we will need a fresh effort to track down all of those who face a heightened risk of the virus and give them the confidence they need to get vaccinated,” he said.

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"If it is purely logistical then there are questions to be answered about why the Health Secretary has still not got to grips with these delays."

A spokesperson for the SNP accused opposition parties of trying to “undermine” the vaccination programme, and insisted that the 100,000 eligible Scots without a jag is a “small number”.

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"We have been clear that due to the sheer scale and complexity of the vaccination programme that there may be a small number of people who have not had their invitation letters promptly - we continue to urge anyone in that position to contact the helpline to get their appointment resolved,” they said.

"There will also be some people who chose not to take up the vaccine or who are advised against it when they go for their appointment - and we would continue to urge them and everyone to take up their vaccine when they are offered it to help protect themselves from this terrible virus."

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