Every Covid jag refused a step further from normality, Sturgeon says after 500,000 appointments missed

Nicola Sturgeon and Jason Leitch have urged members of the public to take up their Covid vaccine when offered, after almost 500,000 missed appointments were reported.

Some 446,366 appointments for first doses and 38,216 for second doses have been unattended since February, according to figures published this week by Public Health Scotland (PHS).

Speaking at a Covid-19 briefing on Friday, the First Minister urged people to take the vaccine.

“This vaccination programme is so important to get us back to normality, and the more people are vaccinated, the more normality we'll be able to get back, so literally every single person who gets vaccinated is a wee step on that road,” she said.

A nurse prepares the Moderna Covid-19 vaccine. Picture: PA Media

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“The counter to that is that every person who chooses not to get vaccinated for whatever reason is a step we’re not taking.”

She added: “I cannot force somebody to turn up for an appointment, I can stand here and plead with you, and I will do that for as long as it takes, and we will think about how we make it more flexible. We’re already making drop in clinics available [...] we've got a responsibility to make it as easy for you as possible, but that final step has to be the individual’s, or actually turning up to get a vaccination.

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Covid Scotland: 500,000 vaccine appointments missed since February

“The vast majority are doing that, but if you have had an appointment that you haven't turned up for, for whatever reason, it's not too late to go back and book a fresh appointment, and if you do that, you’re playing your part in getting us all back to normal.”

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The rate of missed appointments in Scotland is “broadly in line” with that of other UK nations, Ms Sturgeon said.

High rates of vaccine take-up suggest that many people re-book an appointment after missing it, or may get a jag at a drop-in centre.

The percentage of appointments missed is higher in younger age groups and more deprived areas, with a quarter of first dose appointments missed in the under-50s, and the same percentage missed in the most deprived areas.

In younger age groups, PHS suggested people were more likely to miss an appointment due to work or other commitments. Younger people are also less likely to have kept contact details up to date with their GP.

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