Covid Scotland: 27,000 vaccine doses wasted in a single month
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Some 13 per cent of doses given were wasted, compared to an average of just 1.5 per cent from September to January.
Just half of those aged 18 to 29 have received a booster jag, while the figure for all adults is 78 per cent, below the Scottish Government benchmark of 80 per cent.
It comes as the number of people in hospital with Covid reached 1,999.
In response to a “significant” increase in Covid patients, NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde has banned all but essential visiting in several wards at the Glasgow Royal Infirmary and Royal Alexandra Hospital from Thursday.
NHS Lanarkshire has already taken this step.
The majority of vaccine doses wasted in February – around 21,000 – were due to passing expiry dates, according to a new report from Public Health Scotland (PHS).
Some wastage of vaccine doses is expected, but this is usually due to unused stock left over at the end of shifts. When drawing up plans for the vaccination programme in 2021, the Scottish Government allowed for an upper limit of 5 per cent wastage, but rates have largely remained well below this.
A total of 184,495 vaccine doses were administered in February, much fewer than in previous months during which the booster programme had been more active.
A total of 471,925 doses were given in January, while over one million were administered in each of November and December.
The Scottish Government is currently offering a second booster dose to those most vulnerable.
This includes over-75s, those living in care homes for older adults, and adults and teenagers who are immunosuppressed.
PHS also reported that case numbers rose 38 per cent in the week to March 13 compared to the previous week, while hospital admissions rose by 1 per cent.
Around a third of those in hospital with Covid are over 75, at 368.
Older patients are also more likely to stay in hospital longer. Almost 80 per cent of patients over 70 hospitalised with Covid in the past two weeks of February stayed for longer than 48 hours, compared to just 24 per cent of under-18s and around a third of those aged 18 to 39.
A Scottish Government spokesperson stressed the Covid vaccine wastage rate remained below 5 per cent until February this year.
“The higher vaccine wastage figure reported in February 2022 is linked to fewer appointments taking place,” they said.
"mRNA vaccines have a short shelf life when removed from freezers and more stock was removed from freezers than could be used before expiry.
"We do not anticipate this to continue to be an issue as we move into the spring/summer vaccination programme. We continue to work with health boards to ensure wastage is at a minimum.”
So far 94 per cent of the Scottish population has received a first dose of Covid vaccine, while 90 per cent have been given a second dose.
Coverage for third or booster doses is at 78 per cent. In the 18 to 29 group this is just 52 per cent.
Data on coverage of second booster doses is not yet available from Public Health Scotland.