24/7 Scottish vaccination stations being 'considered', says Nicola Sturgeon

The next step in the Covid vaccination programme could be 24/7 clinics where younger people can choose a time of day in which to receive their immunisation.

Nicola Sturgeon revealed the Scottish Government was looking at piloting a scheme, as she was pressed at the Covid-19 briefing on Monday on why vaccinations appeared to drop sharply on Sundays and amid increasing demands for frontline police officers to be vaccinated as a priority.

Asked if there was a fully operational seven-day programme, given Sunday's total of 11,362 vaccinations was the lowest so far and less than half the previous day, Ms Sturgeon disclosed the government was considering a 24/7 scheme.

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Nicola Sturgeon has suggested 24/7 vaccines could be delivered.Nicola Sturgeon has suggested 24/7 vaccines could be delivered.
Nicola Sturgeon has suggested 24/7 vaccines could be delivered.
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She stressed there was a “Sunday programme”, which would “continue to develop as more and larger-scale sites come on stream but added: “We had discussions on Friday looking at piloting 24/7 arrangements so that people, particularly when we get into the wider groups of the population, have choices about the time they turn up for vaccination.

“This is the first weekend we published numbers on a Saturday and Sunday, and the last two weekends we caught up on the Monday and there may just still be an issue with a lag in the data coming into Monday's figures.”

Ms Sturgeon said the vaccination programme was “picking up pace”, with 90 per cent of all care home residents – and 95 per cent of the most elderly residents – now vaccinated, as well as 46 per cent of the over-80s.

Letters will also start going out to those aged between 70 and 79 to receive the jag.

Asked for more detail on the 24/7 pilot, Ms Sturgeon said it would be set out when the decision was made.

“These are things we want to look at, but it’s to illustrate that we're looking at all sorts of ways to accelerate this ... things like that ... potentially, and there's a debate about whether people will want to turn up in the middle of the night to be vaccinated.

“It's likely to have a bigger impact on younger groups. We're looking at all these options right now to get it to people as quickly as possible.”

However Scottish Conservative leader Douglas Ross said vaccinations falling by half on a Sunday was a sign the rollout is a “shambles over the weekend”, and accused Ms Sturgeon and the SNP of focusing more on a second independence referendum.

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He said: “We’ve warned the SNP’s vaccine rollout has been sluggish for some time but the latest evidence shows it’s a shambles over the weekend.

“Nicola Sturgeon’s claims of a data lag are clutching at straws when this has happened two weeks in a row, and the figures are not picking up enough midweek to get back on track.

“They are failing to deliver the seven-day service that was promised, and GPs are still not getting supplies quickly enough from the SNP."

He added: “While vaccinations slowed over the weekend, the SNP were debating their plan for a second independence referendum this year. They’re putting a referendum first and risking Scotland’s recovery from this pandemic.”

Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Willie Rennie said Ms Sturgeon's “excuses on the roll out of the vaccine are wearing very thin."

Meanwhile the Scottish Police Federation again raised concerns about the lack of vaccination for frontline police officers. Chair of the SPF, David Hamilton, said while the most important people to be vaccinated were the elderly, vulnerable and those with pre-existing medical conditions, others such as coastguard teams, RNLI teams “and even those home working” were being vaccinated ahead of police officers.

He said: “The type of risk that police officers are facing on a day to day basis really goes beyond any risk these individuals are facing. We have officers having contact with dozens and dozen of households every week as they break up parties which are high risk activities themselves, so it does seem curious that there's no talk about officers being given any priority, not just for the safety of themselves but to stop them becoming super spreaders."

He added: “One officer said he had contact with 75 households over two nights, that's an extraordinary and worrying exposure to be having for him and the other households he's moving between. We're not complaining about people getting the vaccine, but we're concerned these been no attempt to put officers on any kind of list given the nature of their work and I think the public would think it's bizarre.”

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Ms Sturgeon said the vaccine priority list was drawn up by the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation and while she understood police officers’ “frustration” the list as it stood was “delivering the greatest protection”.

She added: “Everybody wants to be vaccinated as quickly as possible, I would love to get it today. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not suggesting I’ve got the same exposure to the public in ways they do, but I understand their frustration.

“The reason the elderly care home population is the top group is that for every 20 vaccinations you carry out you save one life, the further down you go the number of vaccines you need to save one life gets greater.

“We estimate we will have got through that whole list by early May – that's people to 50 and those under 50 with underlying health conditions. We haven’t yet got advice from JCVI on whether there’s particular groups we should prioritise when we go to the wider population, but the sooner we get through the clinical priority groups the sooner we get to the wider population and that’s when police officers, teachers and others will get vaccinated.”

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