Vaccine roll-out going 'better than expected' in Scotland with jag rates expected to speed up

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Professor Jason Leitch has said the vaccine roll-out in Scotland is going “really quite smoothly” as pressure increases on the Scottish Government to speed up the roll-out of the jags.

Speaking at the daily coronavirus briefing on Tuesday, the national clinical director said the vaccination programme was “going better than I expected it to go”. First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said she expected the rate at which the Covid-19 vaccines were delivered to increase in coming weeks.

The comments come as the Scottish Conservatives claim the vaccine roll-out in Scotland could be happening faster, with the rate of jags “lagging behind” the Scottish Government’s target by around 130,000.

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The roll-out of the Covid-19 vaccine is going "better than expected", Professor Jason Leitch has said.The roll-out of the Covid-19 vaccine is going "better than expected", Professor Jason Leitch has said.
The roll-out of the Covid-19 vaccine is going "better than expected", Professor Jason Leitch has said.

As of data released on Tuesday, England has administered the first dose of a vaccine to around 3.7 per cent, while the equivalent figure in Scotland is 3.2 per cent.

The First Minister said the number of vaccinations would start to increase as more community-based vaccinations take place.

She said: “We would hope to and expect to see the daily number of vaccinations increase as we go through the next days and weeks.

"We started, for two reasons, with vaccinations in care homes – firstly and mostly importantly because that is the JCVI top priority group, but also because of the characteristics of the Pfizer vaccine of which we have had more of. That was how we optimised use of that.

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"Vaccinating in care homes is a bit more time consuming and labour intensive than the vaccination programme when it gets into the general population will be.

"As we get into community vaccination, we would see that daily rate increase and, of course, we have set some very key milestones for the groups we want to complete by the end of January/start of February and then by the middle of February.”

Prof Leitch said there would be "bumps in the road” during the roll-out, but said the AstraZeneca vaccine was critical to speeding up delivery.

He said: “You would perhaps expect me to say this, but it is completely genuine. The vaccination programme is going better than I expected it to go.

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"It is going really quite smoothly. There will be bumps on the road and there will be variation of course across our four countries and inside our own, but it is going really, really well.

"[The over-80s at home are] a much more disparate group, a much larger group than our care homes and the AstraZeneca vaccine is the key to getting them now in the next three or four weeks into the practices and into the homes if we need to to get those people vaccinated.

"But I’m very encouraged by progress so far."

However, Scottish Conservatives’ health spokesperson Donald Cameron said the Scottish Government was using vaccine supply and delivery to ‘manufacture’ grievances to further the case for a second independence referendum. This came after health secretary Jeane Freeman claimed supply had been “back-ended” to the end of January by the UK Government.

He said: “These figures confirm that the SNP are not moving fast enough and lagging behind their own targets.

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“At the current speed, they risk falling short of expectations. The vaccine is our key weapon against this virus, so we will continue to push the government to accelerate their plans and focus on increasing the pace.”

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