Covid Scotland: Nicola Sturgeon calls for anti-vaxxers to 'cease and desist'

Nicola Sturgeon has accused people who spread “misinformation” about Covid vaccines of being “selfish and irresponsible” and asked them to stop.

In her SNP conference speech on Monday, the First Minister said a “small, but noisy minority” were responsible for raising “fear” about vaccinations and were "putting the health and wellbeing of the country at risk”.

Addressing them directly in a speech that was otherwise aimed at SNP rank-and-file members, Ms Sturgeon said: “It’s time to cease and desist.

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Nicola Sturgeon used her conference speech to urge people to get vaccinated.

“Getting vaccinated is an expression of love and solidarity. It is about helping each other and helping the NHS.”

Ms Sturgeon said vaccines had given people “renewed hope” in the midst of the pandemic and had been a “positive gamechanger”.

However, the “recent, sharp rise in cases in Scotland” was, she said, "a reminder of the risks we still face”.

She said: “The collective, national effort over these past months has been nothing short of extraordinary.

"I am acutely aware of the sacrifices people have made and the hardships many are still enduring. I will never find the words to adequately express my gratitude. But that great national effort is needed still.”

Vaccination, she said, was “key” and added: “To the millions across the country who have rolled up their sleeves, thank you. To those who haven’t done so yet because you’re worried about things you’ve heardabout vaccines, it’s not too late. Please drop in to a clinic and speak to an expert. I’m confident they’ll put your mind at rest.

"Lastly, to the small, but noisy minority who knowingly spread fear and misinformation about vaccines, I say this – stop being selfish and irresponsible.

“Stop putting the health and wellbeing of the country at risk. It’s time to cease and desist."

Ms Sturgeon also insisted vaccine passports will “make a difference” to reducing the spread of coronavirus, but hoped they would not be required for the long term.

She said requiring proof of vaccination to nightclubs and large events “will be worth it” if it helps to keeps businesses open and reduce the likelihood of restrictions being re-imposed.

The UK Government shelved plans for vaccine certification over the weekend after a backlash from Tory MPs.

Urging people to get vaccinated, continue wearing face masks, and encouraging ventilation indoors, Ms Sturgeon said: “All of these basic mitigations make a difference.

“So too will the limited system of vaccine certification approved by Parliament last week. I hope it won’t be necessary for long.

“But if the simple act of showing that we’ve been vaccinated helps keep businesses open and our lives free of restrictions, then I believe it will be worth it.”

She continued: “The sacrifices we are all being asked to make now may not be as great as a few months ago, but they’re still hard. They also make a big difference so let’s keep going.”

Following Downing Street's decision to scrap vaccination passport plans, Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Alex Cole-Hamilton called for the Scottish Government to do the same.

He said: “It’s sad to see that the Conservative government in Westminster has more concern for medical privacy than the SNP-Green coalition in Scotland.”

Scottish Conservative Covid recovery spokesman Murdo Fraser described the proposals as “half-baked” and accused ministers of “making this plan up as they go along”.

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